I don’t know how you are doing lately – but an awful lot of people I know are feeling overwhelmed, too busy, burdened by the energy of the season and many are struggling to walk through family illnesses and loss and economic difficulties. The end of the year often tends to be like this. Perhaps we can take some guidance from Moses, who in this very week in our Torah comes upon the “bush that is not consumed” in the desert. The One, the Great-Mystery-that-is-Impossible-to-Name says to Moses: “Take off your shoes, for you are standing on holy ground.” I am interpreting this direction as: Be Just Where You Are. Exactly where you are. Take off your shoes so you can really feel the place where you stand. So you can feel the earth under your toes. And just breathe this in (ok, I added the breathing-in part.)
While Moses is in the midst of a miraculous moment, I believe that this advice is helpful to us no matter what place we are in. Even in the midst of trauma and tragedy, illness and disappointment – how can we be any other place than where we are? As my teacher Sylvia Boorstein has been known to say – when you find yourself suffering, put your hand on your heart and say to yourself, “Sweetheart, you’re in pain. Relax. Take a breath. Lets pay attention to what is happening, and then we’ll figure out what to do.”
Just in the last week, several people have said to me – I can’t meditate – I’m too wound up and distracted but I know I “should.” First – let’s deal with the should. You are where you are. There are no “shoulds.” Except in our own minds. The first step is just to acknowledge: I am here right now in this scattered place. I am sad. I am scared. I can’t slow my mind down from racing. And just let that be OK. Take your shoes off in whatever place you are in. Hold your own hand and be where you are. (And as for meditating? You can walk and either focus on each step OR you can just allow yourself to notice whatever arises for you.) And bless yourself as you walk, or sit or lie down (“when you lie down and when you rise up…”) – tell yourself “sweetheart, you’re in pain…..” Does this make sense? When we are in pain, the most important thing is to love ourselves in that pain. For you are standing on holy ground.