Monday, January 10, 2011

Dreamer, awake


A friend found this image on Facebook. She sent it with a quote from Carl Jung:

Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.

I, happily, willingly, embrace both states, though I suppose one may be considered more productive than the other.

For those of us who give ourselves moments of intentional quiet, the call to become more conscious never abates. Living unconsciously, speaking and acting without thought, may well be, in part, responsible for the tragic shootings in Arizona on Saturday. Or the atmosphere of intolerance may be fully intentional, a conscious, considered option, the consequences of which were understood and dismissed.

However much time I am given to be here, the less of it I spend running willy-nilly, the happier I am. That there have been many willy-nilly moments, or why downplay it...years...is not self-criticism. The aspiration to live more mindfully is not one I imagine makes the Top Ten on most to-do lists. And at its best, even the most practiced at meditation and mindfulness say, it will remain an aspiration. We are not learning to drive a car or recreate Julia Child's recipes.

So, one wonders, why attempt a practice which cannot be, by common definition, mastered? I can only answer for myself. A quiet mind has a greater capacity for appreciation. Gratitude, like compassion, like acceptance, like love, allows us residence in a state of expanded peace.

My heritage too often emphasized anxiety, pessimism, mistrust and, at times, misinformation as a result of judgment. These are not the companions of enlightenment. To be happy, simply, in-spite-of-everything content in most moments, to see that I have a choice, transforms the human experience. Life will always be life, bringing the welcome and the unwelcome, probably in equal measure.

That stillness may be found by looking within seems contrary to the messages I absorbed growing up. In fact, stillness would have been seen as something only a fool would want. We need to be busy and resentful, frightened and bullying and shaming. But I have the model of how poorly that worked, unless all I wanted was more of the same.

Thank you, Marta, for the image, Jung's words and your company as we practice becoming awake. In its way, it is a bit like driving or cooking, for there is pleasure in the practice, it is time well spent.

13 comments:

Kass said...

Such a thoughtful post. One I really need today.

I spend a lot of time with just myself and my granddog. I wish I could say that my mind is quiet most of the time. It's so easy, like you say to drop to criticism and lists of everything that's wrong with the day or some family member.

I think we should start teaching Yoga and Meditation in grade school.

RachelVB said...

I also needed this today. Thank you. It's a deep breath and an exhale.
I have been battling with negative thoughts, fighting in my head with people for things that have not even happened yet. And what does that do? It makes ME unhappy and in return those around me unhappy and a whole lot of unhappiness. It's hard to remind ourselves to live in the moment - not in the future of what we can't control, but in each minute.
I agree with both. We need the outside and the inside as we need the light and the dark. I think one could not exist without the other.
xo
Rachel

Marylinn Kelly said...

Kass - How often I remind myself...sometimes forgetting, sometimes remembering. How different life would have been with the awareness of such an alternative taught early. What a sound suggestion.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Rachel - Possibly a very well trained mind could exist without the dreaming, but mine is not one of those. Seeing things in a better light requires some imagination, visualization...sometimes a fine line between that and denial, pretending.

Rachel and Kass - I would not call it easy, not even close. But I believe I can keep learning, continue to lean toward happiness. xo

Laoch of Chicago said...

The most attractive thing about Buddhism is its' focus upon mindfulness. Inciteful post.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Laoch - Thank you. Buddhism has much to teach us, certainly much to teach me, about living more peacefully.

Artist and Geek said...

"If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost,
That is where they should be.
Now put the foundations under them."
(Thoreau)

Robert the Skeptic said...

Since retiring I have had the discomfort at being "unproductive". It has only been recently that I have accepted, embraced actually, the fact that I need not be "productive" at my stage of life and given myself permission to indulge and enjoy what time I have left.

Marta said...

Lovely post my dear friend...It's nice to be an inspiration of any kind....Quiet Mind...a great thing to practice...Your words are so soft and gentle and there in lies a quietude that relaxes...thanks

Marta said...

Beautiful words put together with a quiet that smooths the wrinkles of today..it is a honor to have a dedication here and and I agree that quiet will bring more and more peace...not only into my living room..the world at large...

Marylinn Kelly said...

Artist and Geek - Thank you. Apt instruction from a favorite source.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Robert - The notion of being rather than doing is one we truly have to learn, since it is not common. To savor each moment, without judging ourselves...we would each be well-advised to enjoy what time we have left, since we cannot know how much there is.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Marta - You are welcome and thank you, in return. Calm the jitters, smooth the wrinkles out and, perhaps, be the source of greater peace. What could be better.