It took a long time for the analytical world to look at the importance of the way a baby is held, and yet when you come to think of it, this is of primary importance. The question of holding brings up the whole issue of human reliability. Winnicott
I love the sense of natural movement in this poem by Rilke, and the delicate gentleness of the last line. We change, are shaken and fall, as nature does, and this can seem frightening at times. It can agitate us as it goes against the security we have when things are firm. To give us confidence we need some sense of being held. Because, as Winnicott reminds us, a person’s most formative experiences comes from the way their caregivers “hold” them, as that allows them feel grounded in the face of the uncertainties of life. Meditation practice allows us create that security within, and develop an inner stability, which is hard to shake, no matter what comes up. We trust and can let our lives unfold gently, lightly, each breath and each moment floating and falling, held in awareness.
The leaves are falling, falling as if from afar,
as if withered in the distant gardens of heaven;
with nay-saying gestures they fall.
And in the nights falls the heavy earth
from all the stars into loneliness.
We all are falling. This hand there falls.
And look at the others: it is in all of them.
And yet there is one, who holds all this falling
with infinite gentleness in his hands.
Rainer Maria Rilke, Autumn
Everything is meant to be let go of.
Listening to people this week I was struck by how frequently we tend to define ourselves in terms of solid, unchanging qualities. However, when we talk about ourselves in terms that are fixed, such as “I’m no good at ……”, or “I am a timid person” … we freeze our whole selves into just one limited part. Or if we attach our identity to some things that are fixed – like a job, a relationship as it is now, where we live or something that we have – we are sooner or later going to run into difficulty because everything changes. It is a good practice to keep defining ourselves in fluid terms, as always changing – continually constructing ourselves in way that is able to deal with the ongoing changes in life. We know that if we try to prevent change and freeze things as they are, we are attempting something impossible. So let us work on really understanding the inevitability of the change we see all around us by applying this to how we narrate our life story, even our story of just this week. In this way we can more easily see our true underlying openness of mind, which can be aware of all the words which we attach to ourselves. This leaves us open to all possibilities in our future, not limiting ourselves or having just one fixed identity or goal.
Just as a snake sheds its skin, so we should shed our past, over and over again
In essence, mindfulness is about wakefulness.
Our minds are such that we are often more asleep than awake
to the unique beauty and possibilities of each present moment as it unfolds.
Jon Kabat Zinn
We tend to run our whole life trying to avoid all that hurts or displeases us, noticing the objects, people, or situations that we think will give us pain or pleasure, avoiding one and pursuing the other. Without exception, we all do this. We remain separate from our life, looking at it, analyzing it, judging it, seeking to answer the questions, ‘What am I going to get out of it? Is it going to give me pleasure or comfort or should I run away from it?” We do this from morning until night.
Charlotte Joko Beck
Trying to solidify the self through accomplishments or material goods is a natural impulse in our uncertain, impermanent world. But it doesn’t help. It doesn’t make life perfect; it doesn’t make us immortal; it doesn’t lead to wisdom. In fact, achieving and gaining can cause new kinds of suffering, our responsibilities and our worries can be compounded.
Andrea Miller, Bird Songs
We need patience in relationships to really grow and know another person, to grow into our own stories and really listen to the stories of another. This allows a new story to emerge as the interweaving of two lives. Calm patience, letting go of any forcing in the now, as we allow something deeper to come in the future.
To learn to live with the unavoidability of the other is to learn to be patient. Such patience comes not just from our inability to have the other do our will; more profoundly, it arises with the love that the presence of the other can and does create in us. Our loves, like our bodies, signal our death. And such love – if it is not to be fearful of its loss, a very difficult thing – must be patient. Moreover, patience sustains and strengthens love, for it opens to us the time we need to tell our own story with another’s story intertwined and to tell it together with that other. So told, the story in fact constitutes our love.
Hauerwas and Pinches, Christians Among the Virtues