Earlier this season, just about the time when kids went back to school, I started noticing something. Roxy, a dog in my neighborhood would bark plaintively for almost an hour after the school bus picked up her young people to take them to school.
It just so happened this was my meditation hour and so I spent the time listening to her bark. It was a wonderful lesson on resistance to the reality of the present moment.
There were different levels of this resistance that presented themselves to my mind as I sat. The first was just plain aversion–I didn’t want that noise to be happening and “interfering” with my meditation. Of course, it wasn’t really interfering and I’ll address that later.
The next level was compassion. I felt bad for the puppy and felt her pang of longing as she pined for the kids who heretofore in the summer months had been her constant companion. I wanted to fix the situation but there wasn’t much I could do. She actually lives far away but the sound gets carried through the valley.
Each bark was an invitation to open or resist. I would often find myself coming back from a scree of resistance, catching myself pushing against it, not wanting it to be there, and then re-settling back into the landscape of now that, of course, included the barking sounds.
One overlay of thoughts was a preconceived notion of what meditation should look like. I not only didn’t want the barking to be there, I also wanted a peaceful, restful, calming meditation. Such desire misses the point of practice.
The purpose of practice is to open to things as they are in this moment, in this context. No matter what is happening without or within us we can have a beneficial meditation session.
After a few mornings of working with resistance, it was easier to be with the barking and the resistance mostly faded. After a few weeks, Roxy herself, perhaps, also stopped resisting and she no longer barked at the appointed hour.
We both adapted in our own way!