Lately I’ve been noticing how important it is to focus on remaining open and be willing to absorb experience instead of the constant need to fix, manipulate, or resolve experiences. I find staying permeable changes my perspective drastically. I consciously open the door to possibilities and probabilities.
Sometimes I find myself in circumstances that are challenging, and I close up. Closing means to offer whatever defenses I have at the time to build a wall. It’s not a good or bad action, it’s simply my coping mechanism rising in response to perceived pressures.
But, in the practices of Tao, Zen, and Chan there’s another perspective for engagement which doesn’t mean living behind a wall. It encourages noticing my wall, without noticing the wall there will be no way to change the situation. Once I see the wall my perspective changes immediately, the entire internal story changes. For me, once the wall is experienced, I can see what drives the building in the first place. Fear? Anger? Jealousy? Sadness? Or am I in a good place, and building the wall to make sure I don’t lose the “positive feeling”?
I cannot change my feelings, not even a little. I can’t make myself hold certain feelings, but I have an opportunity to notice the container I have constructed and change the “story” I tell myself into a direct experience. I can take whatever action is appropriate in these moments. When those two dynamics take place, noticing I’m contained and seeing my “story,” I recalibrate attention, and embrace actions relevant to the moment. The action doesn’t have to have anything to do with the subject that drove building the wall, just the action of engaging the body and mind relative to location in time and space shifts the focus of attention.
All this continues to reflect how important it is to stop, breathe deeply, place attention exactly where I am in space and time, and experience how I am outside of endless stories about life.
What’s odd about this process is that I can’t really “build a wall” to keep the world at bay. That’s a story, a fantasy. In truth, I live in a bittersweet universe and continue to fall into the unknown, enmeshed and woven into life, no escape, no hiding, no way to deny or avoid my experience.
Of course, some days I have the courage to see and step outside of my walls, and other days I sit peering out at the world, living in my delusional and illusional container. But it’s important to see there’s options, I can choose to breathe into presence, experience how I am, move away from the story, and take whatever action is relative in these moments.
I encourage taking a moment to contemplate: Am I seeing life clearly in these moments? It’s not a matter of right or wrong, good, or bad, it’s matter of seeing a little bit clearer. Or, is there a wall blocking the view?