Walking the Edge of Reality

I woke this morning at 5:47am. After being up after my Tuesday night poker game until midnight, that was a little early for me to be getting up. As I started my day, I noticed that I was feeling unsettled, like a low-level anxiety buzz in my system. There isn’t anything specific that has me worked up or anything, but I was noticing that I had a lot on my mind. I decided to go for a walk to Lake Cleone, a beautiful little lake (would-be estuary) about a mile from my front door. I really just wanted to get back out of my head and into my body. I’ve been writing about this concept lately because I feel I am right on the edge, walking the line between being in my body/settled/present, and in my mind/unsettled/not present. It’s fascinating to see. What is becoming more and more clear is how easy and sweet life is when I am in my body, and how unsettled it is when I am in my mind. I took my camera with me as sometimes, if done mindfully, taking photographs can open up my visual center and help take me out of my mind a little. The images here are from the walk this morning.

So I went for the walk and at countless times during the hour and a half away from home I noticed how I wasn’t noticing. I’d walk for awhile and then become aware how I hadn’t really seen much, missed the trees, the texture, the birds chirping, etc. When I’m in my mind, in my thoughts, the reality of this world as it is presenting itself just gets fogged over and I miss it. In many ways, I think this was how my life was for many many years, enjoying my life and time spent, but not really being very present to it. Since returning from India, I’ve been slower, more still, more centered in my belly rather than in my head, and as a result, I’ve tended to see things, smell things, appreciate things, and have had more time to be easy and present with friends and other people rather than being in my thoughts or in the future while talking with them.

It feels like I’m at risk of crossing over that line right now, falling over the ridge line, but the taste of easefulness is too familiar and sweet to me to allow that to happen very easily. Thus, I took a walk when I felt it had come on, and then I moved on to the Three Jewels temple near here for an 8am mediatation. Two 25 minute sits with a 5 minute break in between to stretch if desired. After all of that, I feel like I have found my way back, clambered back down onto the sunny side of the gravelly ridge I was walking on.

This feels very important to me right now to pay attention to this, so I’m trying to remain right in the middle of watching it happen. Life is much too sweet on this sunnier side of the ridge, so I want to try the best I can to be aware of behaviors/activities/tendencies, etc. which end up waking me at 5:47am centered squarely in my mind and not my belly.

I’ll be giving the dharma talk at Kumeido (a local zendo in Little River) this coming Sunday at 3pm, and I’m pretty excited about it. It’s my first step into the world wearing the shoes of a teacher. I’ll be talking about keeping one’s heart open as a practice, using my travels in India as a backdrop.

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