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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Discipline and kindness

A scheduled phone call falls through when the person on the other end doesn't answer, leaving me with 45 minutes free time.

Normally I would be at the gym at this time, but I came home instead to make this call. I could go to the gym now, but I'd run into the after-work crowd and I'd be pushing up against my evening plans.

I could sit. I should sit. Forty-five minutes free -- it'd be good.

But I'm so tired. My body contemplates moving to the cushion. I could sit, but I'm so tired.

When I was on retreat last summer, there was one day -- after an evening where we broke silence for an hour after a talk and my mind was buzzing too much to sleep -- where I could sit with sleepiness but nearly tipped over during walking meditation. It was not quality meditation time. I bowed out and headed toward a couch.
The teacher was coming down the hall toward me. I explained that I was going to lie down, that I wanted to be in the shrine room, sitting, as I was supposed to be, as a disciplined meditator would be, looking at my tiredness, but that I just couldn't (continue the explanation/excuse/rationale for why I was deviating from the schedule, failing to live up to ...)
He cut me off.
"That would be the kind thing to do," he said.

So this day, as my should-do mind directed me to the cushion, my heart-mind countered: Or I could take a nap. That would be the kind thing to do, my teacher's voice said.

Sometimes discipline means getting your ass onto the cushion. Sometimes it means heading to the nearest couch.

Discipline means knowing what's going on in the moment, whether you're indulging laziness, acting out on aversion, avoiding what you might find, or taking care of yourself.

And doing the kind thing.

What you do for yourself -- any gesture of kindness, any gesture of gentleness, any gesture of honesty and clear seeing toward yourself -- will affect how you experience your world. In fact, it will transform how you experience the world. What you do for yourself, you're doing for others, and what you do for others, you're doing for yourself. -- Pema Chodron