Level Two is Hard

How is Level Two going?

1. Meditate for 30 minutes every day. Including (and especially) while on vacation with my family.

I am back from vacation, and feeling disappointed about my success here. Out of seven days, I meditated one day for 30 minutes and a second day for 10 minutes. The other five days contained no sitting meditation.

Small victories: two days of meditation is better than my typical practice of zero. I practiced presence in other ways, sinking in to the physicality of sand and salt water and sunshine.

Key observation: My worst fear came true. I went out to meditate on the beach on the afternoon of my first full day at the beach. After 30 minutes, I came back inside. I felt assaulted on my way in, “We were watching you! Did you see this or that? We were tracking your every movement!” After this, I felt self-conscious about meditating outside again. I tried a stint in my bedroom, but mostly felt too overwhelmed to sit still.

As I settle back in to my practice – and I am heartened to feel how I can return now that I am home – I feel the waves of anxiety from just sitting still again. I know these will pass eventually, but it’s hard to feel like I’m starting over.

2. Use the even greater cuts at work to focus on what is absolutely essential.

My original thought here was to answer the questions: “How can I demonstrate what can be done by one person? How can I do that in a way that does not require that one person to burn out in the process?”

At this point, the answer is “this work isn’t meant to be done by one person.”

The question now is, “How do I relate to work in a way that is sustainable?” One answer may be focusing on the essential. But it is likely not the only answer. Or even the most important.

3. Ask (everyone) for help.

I am getting help with my dilemmas with relationships. I am getting help at work. I have stretched to ask some people for help, and weathered the hard responses (often the hardest being the lack of response).

As people return to work, as friends have more space to talk through things with me, it’s easy to ask people who are convenient for help. The lesson of this difficult time has been – stretch beyond what’s comfortable to ask for help. It’s the best way to bring people closer.

My intent is to continue to stretch – to ask people as a way to connect them closer. And to remember that this is not just about work!

4. Be Nourished By Everything

I spent the week being nourished by the ocean. By dolphins chasing fish in the waves. By nephews running in circles, popsicle smeared on their faces. By parents providing everything they know how. By Rilke‘s reminder to “live the questions.”

And I also felt the lack. The emptiness. The confusion. The stagnation. The hunger for something, anything.

“And you should not let yourself be confused in your solitude by the fact that there is something in you that wants to move out of it. This very wish, if you use it calmly and prudently like a tool, will help you spread out your solitude over a great distance. Most people have (with the help of conventions) turned their solutions toward what is easy and toward the easiest side of the easy; but it is clear that we must trust what is difficult; everything alive trusts in it, everything in Nature grows and defends itself any way it can and is spontaneously itself, tries to be itself at all costs and against all opposition.” – Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet.

And so there is nourishment to be found in solitude, in confusion, in difficulty. I don’t yet feel that, but I see a glimmer that it might possibly be true.


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