Susan Hills Nelson lives in Columbia, SC, and works as an attorney for Nelson Mullins Riley Scarborough. She has also been attending Ganden Kadampa Buddhist Center for about four years. This year, she made a New Year’s Resolution to meditate every day. She’ll be giving us a weekly update on this blog to let us know how it’s going.
Sickness, work, and travel all threatened to derail my practice this week. Nonetheless, I am happy to report that I survived these life-attacks unscathed and still managed to meditate every day.
Being sick definitely makes you realize that no one else cares about your suffering as much as you do. Here are some flashbacks of this week:
Me: Cough. Cough. Sniffle. Sniffle. HONK. HONK. (No, not a car passing by or geese migrating, but my not-so-delicate nose blowing. . . )
My office mates: “Hey, can you keep it down in there?”
My mother: “Well, clearly you are not taking care of yourself.”
Me: Arrgggghhhhh! Why me????
Instead of being derailed by sickness this week, however, I noticed this week that I am starting to become fairly attached to my meditation hour. No really, I am beginning to NEED to meditate. It is becoming a constant in my otherwise hectic and unpredictable life. Good mood or bad mood, snow or sun, stressed or happy, traveling or home, sick or well, I like knowing that I am going to meditate regardless of whatever else happens that day.
It seems to me that there is nothing to fear on my meditation cushion, and everything to fear once I walk away from it. The constant cycle of noise in my mind is silenced. At my best, I surf a wave of peace and contentment. At my worst, I watch ripples of fear and anxiety. And infrequently, I enjoy a really nice nap.
This week, I was working on meditating from my heart and not my head. I noticed that I live my whole life in my head. Indeed, I became a lawyer because it was safe and I feared rejection if I pursued my youthful dream to be a triple-threat actress in NYC. It is ironic that I became a lawyer to protect my heart, because protecting your heart is probably the quickest way to cause it to atrophy.
Speaking of irony, that reminds me of a line in the Lam Rim meditation I read this week on the Disadvantages of Self Cherishing. It says, and I do not quote, “All of the suffering there is in this world arises from wishing ourself to be happy.” I laughed out loud when I read that. How sad! How true!
So I have been thinking about what my life would look like if I stopped living from my head, if I stopped trying to protect and control my heart. What would my life look like if I simply listen to and follow what my heart says is good, and true, and just, and right? What would I do then? I imagine I would be much more vulnerable. I imagine that would be scary. But I imagine I would be a whole heck of a lot happier, too.
For the coming week, I am going to try to listen to my heart first, and my head second and only when necessary. I am going to stop wishing for my own happiness and wish for others to be happy. And when I am really down, I am going to try and stop thinking about myself at all and do something for someone else instead. I know, these are lofty goals for a girl who barely started to meditate, but when else am I going to change my life if not now?