Monday, April 24, 2006

The Oasis

Back from New York, I found this on my desktop. Never sent it out to be published, so will post it for you to read of my harried life a few years back:

In a hurried, harried world, sitting in stillness has taught me that the immediate present is the only place I can be at peace. Some days, I have no control over outside events, and the best I seem to be able to do is damage control.

This winter was a prime example: between a pedagogical holiday and one child sick, my two kids were home practically a whole week. My daughter had an ear infection, the dog vomited in the car, the kitchen sink got clogged with sand, and the heat pump started frosting up. Between plumbers, vets and doctor’s appointments, my regular schedule was totally disrupted. On days like that, if I don’t spend time in the quiet sanctuary within, it’s not a pretty sight. By Wednesday, the tone of my voice was getting shrill. The sore shoulder was acting up, there were groceries to unload from the car, and the kids made a beeline for the door, leaving me with the bags. “Come back and help me!” I yelled. It was already 6:15 pm, and I was totally clueless as to what to make for supper, (too late to make that beef stew I had planned). It may not be all out nuclear war, but my kids wisely aim for the hills, or hide behind closed doors when Mommy starts yelling. By Thursday, I was ready to abandon my list of things to do. No point fighting the chaos, which was not going away. I was no longer willing to let it disrupt my equilibrium. Nothing to do but surrender the battle, and wave the flag of peace.

I have learned the hard way that if I don’t spend time cultivating my inner oasis, this mom will soon be scraping rock bottom with nothing to give. That’s not the kind of mom I want to be, so I’m learning that nurturing my need for balance and peace inside me actually improves the harmony in my household. The trick is to find a quiet time to be alone, when no one can disturb me. For me, this means waking up early before the kids are up, or after they have left for school. I sit in my comfy chair with my eyes closed, a warm shawl draped around me and practise some simple techniques for going within and feeling peace. I don’t need any props or candles, not even incense or soft flute music in the background. My peace is absolutely portable; it’s always with me, as long as I make the time. The hitch is to put off the busy list maker for a while. My teacher Prem Rawat once said ‘If you don’t sit still, how can you expect peace and tranquility to catch up with you?’ My thirst for peace is what propels me to go within.

Why go within? Within is where being takes priority over doing. Here is a time to set all other matters aside and enjoy the rich well of contentment that fills me with every breath. Focusing within, I allow my senses to be soothed from a different place. Instead of roaming lost in worries about tomorrow, or mulling over yesterday’s mistakes, I relish the stillness that is right now. Within me is a sanctuary that costs nothing, and is accessible at all hours of the day or night. The missing peace finds me, when I slow down, and sit still.

A good day is a day that I can feel at peace, even in the midst of unscheduled appointments, a puppy that chews my boots, kids’ illnesses, and getting my teen son off to school with a decent lunch packed. A good day is when I stop worrying about what is out of my control and put my focus on what is within my reach to improve. A good day is when I remember to eat regular meals so I don’t get cranky, get some fresh air and sign up for that Jazz Ballet class. And every day I practice the simple techniques that help me turn my attention within. Even in the middle of the day, I want to remember how close this peace is to me. Sometimes I even give myself a short break, get up from the computer and look out the window at the cardinal on the bird feeder. Amidst the rays of sun, the crystal flakes are like a bright dust falling outside the window. I take a deep breath, revelling in the serenity and calm.

I don’t have to wait for the resolution to end all wars on the planet. I don’t even have to wait until my children stop having earaches or the puppy learns not to chew on my boots. Peace is not hiding on the top of some far away mountain, or at the bottom of the sea. It's tiny doorway lies within me.

Jennifer Boire

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