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Waiting Room of Life

Woman sitting in chair staring out window

Do you ever feel like you do more waiting than you do progressing?

That’s how I feel right now. It reminds me of the old adage: Three steps forward, two steps back, which is fine if I’m dancing but for my life’s work it can feel pretty discouraging. Life feels good when I step forward but that energy is soon forgotten when being forced to step back. These past two weeks have been a step back, a sit down and an active practice to Reframe from Love!

Sometimes taking a step back is exactly what we need to gain perspective.

With all the changes in my world, there is no shortage of things to do and yet without a few more logistics, answers and details, there is no next right step at this time. Waiting is hard.

I fill the time with projects that have long lived on my to-do list not as high priorities, but important enough not to be removed: clean the shed, mulch the gardens, etc. However, the practice of meditation is my best go-to time filler or coping mechanism in times of waiting. Ironically this weekend’s Teacher Training was all about meditation. Perfect timing?

My Meditation practice pre-dates my formal immersion into Yoga, and yet, Yoga gave me the language to expand beyond rote regurgitation of canned prayers and memorized recitations. Meditation practice gave me permission to let go of structure and form and embrace intention and possibility in my contemplation. Sometimes in that space, I can even connect more intimately with Wisdom.

God’s Waiting Room by Jeremy Frindel

There can be no appointment with God

None that we can arrange

The best we can do is to take shelter

In His waiting room

Knowing if we stay long enough

He’s bound to pass through.

Meditation, waiting, and life can often feel like a tedious practice of showing up for the eventual accident of an encounter with God, Divine Wisdom, Universe (choose the name that works for you). Well, I’ve always been a bit accident prone! My meditation teacher once told me that meditation is a practice but finding bliss is an accident. When we make meditation a daily practice, we increase our chances of being accident prone.

These days I’m attempting to Reframe (from Love) waiting as an adventure. A game of hide and seek, maybe? defines waiting as (noun) a period of waiting; pause, interval, or delay; (adjective) serving or being in attendance.

That’s the one! The adjective definition depicts a way of being! “Serving or being in attendance.” Or as the yogis teach, “Be in the moment, be the witness.” In order for me to be in the moment, I actively “Reframe from Love” to settle anxiety, stress and redefine injury and trauma. In other words, I breathe, relax, feel, witness, and allow (BRFWA).

BRFWA is an acronym I learned and adapted from my study at Kripalu yoga institute. Breathe-Relax-Feel-Witness-Allow is a strategy and a way of riding the waves of sensation in the moment and across the span of our lives. It starts by settling into the breath. If I’m not breathing, this practice reminds me to reignite the breath. With each exhale, I relax the muscles and invite the release of tension. Letting go of unnecessary contraction in the body frees up mental and physical awareness to feel, to feel through the senses but also the heart. Sometimes this is as far as I get in the process: breathe, relax, feel. Repeat. Patanjali might say this is the pre-cursor to meditation or Pratayahara, but it’s not a competition, right!?!

Patanjali’s Ashtanga or Eight Limb Path establishes four foundational practices that support the four stages of meditation. Yamas (1) & Niyamas (2) provide the ethical foundation to which Asana (3) and Pranayama (4) provide the physical foundation before entering into the mental and metaphysical realms. Pratayahara is the 5th limb, but the first stage or even pre-step to mediation. Pratayahara is the practice of tuning our senses inward and allowing the external world to melt away.

Limb six and seven, Dharana (6) and Dhyana (7) are two levels, stages, or even intentions for meditation in the progression to Samadhi (8) or bliss according to Patanjali. Dharana is concentrated focus whereas Dhyana is flow or ease in the doing. Dharana might include a mantra, a designated focal point, or a repetitive movement while Dhyana can be experienced as a step out of time into an effortless existence often found at the intersection of deep interest and practiced skill.

Patanjali defines Samadhi as the culmination and ultimate meditation state. Some interpretations explain Samadhi’s bliss as only available when we no longer embody the physical realm whereas others define it as a glimpse into the ultimate oneness, even if fleeting. I ascribe to this second paradigm. I have no way of knowing if I’m right, but nor do I have a need to be right. I only know that when I practice meditation I sometimes arrive at a place of peace and tranquility that I’ve experienced no where else. But more importantly experiencing this feeling helps me to reengage in life with more attention, with more hope and optimism after the meditation.

What does it mean to “be in attendance”?

To be in attendance to life is the process of Transparent Alignment, the union of intention, attention and action. In times of waiting, this attendance looks and feels different. My intention is to remain as a witness, I direct my attention toward the sensations of my body, the thoughts of my mind and heart and the presence of emotions without attachment. Finally, the action (which might look like non-doing) is to surrender to the non-doing, to allow the unfolding without force.

However, to be in attendance also means staying open to changing conditions and new information. This can be hard for a go-getter like myself. I know how to make things happen! And yet, meditation has taught me that focused drive can make it difficult to hear the still, small voice of wisdom and cause me to miss the signs and invitations to try something not in my original line of sight. In other words, if I focus too much on getting something done, I might miss something even better that I might have not otherwise noticed.

We all have stages and stories of waiting… news from the doctor, reply from an application, arrival of a train, plane, or ride. I’d love to hear your stories on how you manage the waiting in your life. What has helped you find tranquility and peace? How did you navigate the waiting room of your next appointment in Life?