The future I live in now

When I was a young adult the ‘future’ held the promise of transformation of a better life to the one I was living. Everything was in the future: work would only happen if I could get the funding; the places I would visit when I had someone to travel with; the people I would reconnect with when I was feeling better about myself; the skills I would make the time to learn when I felt more motivated. The only problem was nothing much changed. I believed that somehow in the future I would become a better version of me,  but a version of me that had no real connection to who I was in the present or reality.

Discovering Vipassana meditation and making it part of my day to day life helped me to see the reality as it is, it also helped me realise how much my fixation with the future stopped me being in the present and making the most of it.

Applying this learning to my current life – my wife, daughter and I recently moved into a new home. It is full with boxes that need to be unpacked and walls that need to be knocked down. It is down to me and my wife to make this space our home. Simply believing the future will magically make this happen, is a reality I know now through experience does not exist. It is down to me, not circumstance, to make it into a place where happy memories can be born.

When we first moved in, my wife and I went through different phases of thinking we had made an awful mistake, that we should never have moved. As you can imagine there was little time or space to meditate, but one evening I was able to make the most of the warm weather and to go out into our beautiful (but overgrown) garden and close my eyes for almost an hour.

All the noise in my head related to everything that had to be done went quiet, as I entered the flow I recognised that my future, which once was everything, was now of little importance. It was as if all the bright lights that used illuminate its front, making it so attractive, one by one turned off.

The future I live in now is what I make of it – no big startling revelation for any of you who have done any personal development, but finally I got it !

‘…stop thinking and concentrate on the breath’ I reminded myself just before my wife came and joined me in our new garden.

 

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A lovely hug

Even before Joely or JJ, my daughter, was born nearly two years ago, I struggled with  prioritising making two hours available for meditation every day. But most days, first thing before the day had begun, I would make sure I got onto my mat for an hour. In addition, blessed to be living in a neighborhood with an active Vipassana community, I was able to regularly sit with others; and for five important years, annually I sat or served on a ten day course. In short it was a big part of my life.

My experience of becoming a parent has been that everything that I once held sacred and essential to being me just fell away, and in its place became the need and desire to use every spare shred of energy and second of time on being there for my family.

Recently, I was able to meditate properly for the first time since JJ was born. Thanks to the Dhamma Shed which has begun to host monthly one day Vipassana courses, I was able to meditate from 9am-5:30pm, with a lovely lunch in-between. Although my time on the mat was challenging, the time flew by.

When I got home we had a Skype call with a dear friend who lives far away. As to be expected, speaking was difficult. All I wanted to do was to close my eyes and go to that place deep inside I re-discovered during my day of mediation. But something happened that has never happened before: JJ climbed onto me and held me tight, as if in an embrace for the duration of the Skype call that lasted an hour. As you can imagine all of my sensations exploded.

Since this experience, I have been trying to understand ‘it’ in the context of my difficulties in being able to prioritise my time and energy to get back to my mat and meditate regularly again.

On one level it gives validation – I could easily use this ‘story’ to justify why I should meditate rather than enjoy a beautiful sunny day with my wife and daughter.

On another level, with my understanding of equanimity, a way of being I only know of because of Vipassana, I understand that this thinking can lead to disappointment and ‘misery’ if it does not happen again. I loved JJ hugging me for a whole hour, I was able to be fully aware how wonderful it was, not only for me and my ego, but for us as a family growing together. I also understand that for me one of the big reasons I must find a way to keep up a daily practice is to help me keep a balanced mind. My goal as a parent is to love her as much when she decides to throw a pot of yogurt over me as I did when she hugged me for an hour.

Not easy, neither is Vipassana.