I Have Arrived, I Am Home

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After reading Heather Regan Addis’ blog post this week ‘Walk with Me’ which details the movie based on Thich Nhat Hanh’s Zen community of mindfulness practitioners, I was reminded of a wonderful gatha or the short verse that Thich Nhat Hanh uses to help us practice mindfulness in our daily activities:

I have arrived, I am home. In the here, In the now. I am solid, I am free. In the ultimate I dwell.

I love this gatha and I usually bring it into my mindful walking practice. The words I have arrived, I am home are powerful reminders that I am simply practicing being present- there is no where that I need to go. Presence is not a destination, rather it is a state of being that is accessible In the here, In the now– in EVERY here and now. We just have to remember.

This teaching was especially relevant for me over the last few days and it moved beyond my mindful walking practice into my informal practice of daily life.

As many of you might have experienced, the snow that swept across Europe last week caused some disruptions. And for the most part, these disruptions did not really cause me any great distress. I was pleased to have my kids home from school and keeping me company, my internet was still working and I was able to do my job and the snow was, well it was pretty.

However, as the weather warnings kept rolling in and were continuously being extended, it became apparent that my planned trip to Italy might be cancelled.  This led to my preference system moving into overdrive- I wanted to go to Italy. I had a destination. I hadn’t arrived. My destination was ‘in the over there’ and ‘in the day or two’. I was starting to feel the pressure of anticipation.

Stressful images were swirling. Images of being stranded in a car on the way to the airport, of not flying until half of the days I had set aside to enjoy Italy had passed, leaving me ‘ripped off’ of some down time, of losing money on the airline ticket that for some reason Ryanair had not cancelled, despite the red weather warning- these imaginings were robbing me of the enjoyment of a snowfall that only happens in Ireland, once every five years or so.

And then I would remember- there’s nothing to do but be with the moment- or rest in the arriving into this moment, in the here and the now.

In fact, I smile remembering an online meeting during last week with Heather, who was snowed in at her house in Scotland. We both laughed at the situation with a surrendering into the unfolding moment- with an arriving.

And then I would get a phone call, a text, a neighbour knocking on the door asking what my plans were- how would I get to the airport? did I have a plan B? Plan C?

I would then go back to the mini panics and sufferings and imaginings and the disturbed peace.

I flip flopped between ‘I have arrived’ and ‘I need to arrive- oh I need to arrive- oh I need to arrive’ for those days leading up to my flight.

However, what has become apparent and almost comical is that this flip flopping is how it all happens for me. When I am sitting on my cushion practicing, when I am engaged in mindful walking, and sometimes even when I am having mindful conversations, I flip flop between having a sense of arrival with no place to go and having a sense of a need to arrive, a need for destination.

This is the practice.

image2I am happy to report that I am indeed, in Bologna. When the day came, without trauma, I packed my car with provisions, and I drove to the airport. All of the worry, all of the anticipation had been for nothing. In fact, the drive up was quite peaceful and full of presence. I had arrived. I was in the journey with nothing else to do but be with it.

And now that I am in Bologna, the architecture, the food, the stimulation of all of my senses is holding my attention. I have arrived, I am home.

Well, at least until my mind starts pulling me into the weekend and the teaching that I am scheduled to do. Then, the flip flop starts back up again…. And I smile at its familiarity and I rest with the knowledge that this is simply the practice. The practice of remembering that when I do notice, I can choose to arrive In the here, In the now.

So, perhaps this can be our weekly challenge. Can we stop a few times a day and be with the words and the meaning of:

I have arrived, I am home. In the here, In the now. I am solid, I am free. In the ultimate I dwell.

-Jane

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