Another Step Towards Awareness.

More than one way.

Photo by Robin Schreiner on Unsplash

The idea was to pick one or more minute frame. One of countless. The rolling movie reel of life. And on it goes, the clicking incessant. Do they still click? Doubtful. All digital. Silent now, the screams are the same. The movie horror plots are the same or worse as we get even more creative with how to dispatch with one’s neighbors. This, of course, can be either real or fiction. The daily news will give you your daily dose of the real, rather dismal.

But this is all about the Pause between.

In the pause sits the scenario. To follow this now old view of things. Pause, take a breath, the gap between in and out, and voila the inner universe. So the desire is to write about that inner unfurling between the in and out. First though, I have to get there. Getting there means actually trying the technique and experiencing first hand this island of fascination in between.

Have I gotten there before? I can say, sort of. Sort of because no, I don’t suddenly stumble over an inner realm, clear as water, flowers, gentle streams, golden water falls, winged fairies flitting about. No. This isn’t even close.

It’s more a gesture. A breath within the breath. The unmistakable sense that while there, I tap into an indescribable place of another energy. So this is a fact. Very real. Does it do something for me?

Almost always feel relief. Could it be like coming home? Perhaps. Is it like dropping into another world? Can’t say that as I have no notion as to what another world may feel like. In fact, such a thing most probably would bring on a terrifying awareness. Probably scare the living hell outta me.

An immediate sense of rest, of letting go of those things society has shackled us into believing, is critical for life.

This is something else. Maybe it’s a very physical thing. After all, it is between breaths as though something is suggested as a result of practicing settling on that pause. Often there is the suspicion that the pause I refer to goes on for some time. Sure it goes quick. But inwardly, the sense of stretching time is rather clear.

So. It is between the breaths, the gap, as the teachers refer to this experience. Visions? No. Flying? No. It’s a sense of being. I’m there, this place. No walls, no floor, not like that. So it’s about being here with capital H. Mind stuff, right?

I think polishing shoes might bring on a similar experience. Have you never sat and polished your shoes? The act is perhaps one of the oddest in the human experience. Ok. In my hand is a piece of shaped leather with hanging laces, smells leathery, smells of polish, distinct. Focused on the shoe, hand holding polishing cloth or brush swiping up against the shoes side, a hollow, rubbing, squeaking sound emitted.

Might be that sound that sends me off. Could be. The act, sitting, solitary, apparent objective, is to bring a certain shine to the surface of your shoes. The experience changes a bit when the shoes you’re polishing are not yours! Yeah, you see that? Of course you did. If they’re someone else’s shoes, suddenly the experience becomes one where another person becomes an inextricable part of your reality, your world. Amazing stuff.

I might even say that if the shoes aren’t yours but you’re polishing them for free, you may still reach that special place. If they’re paying you, then it does something to the magic. The subtleness is mostly sullied. Fascinating stuff, really.

If the shoes are yours, then the polishing, which becomes the meditation, stays right inside you, no outflow, no watering down of the experience.

Ah, but here’s a catch. Say the shoes belong to your sister and you’re polishing her black leather pumps. The purposefulness is regained or never lost. In fact, if it’s an act of favor, even a light form of compassion, the buzz can soar higher than usual.

Place is important too. If you’re doing the polishing in a public place, or your homes patio, whatever, then the pinpointed essence is lost. One needs to be alone. I used to pack myself away into the floor level of my closet. My closet was a repository for my ‘things’, the things belonging to a ten-year-old. My clothes found space there as did the stuff I ‘owned’ like never used ice skates, a BB rifle, some spurs, a bull whip, a bowie knife, baseball stuff, like that.

My closet was a soundproofed sanctuary, not by design, it just resulted that way. The swish and fluffing sounds made of my swiping across the shoes with stained cloth or soft bristled brush were all that was heard. Hypnotizing. More importantly: meditational.

In hindsight, what was happening was the activity became meditation like as though it were a walking meditation. In walking meditation the step by step, the end, the beginning, during each step, the gap between the start of each step all becomes the mantra. A globally respected meditation teacher once told our retreat group that many of their best insights have come doing the slow moving walking meditation!

Exciting stuff.

The sense of peace that overcame me, the gap, was beyond that which I would have ever imagined. I realized I’d found something. Discovered something. I wondered in those moments if others had happened upon this same discovery. I doubted so.

I’m certain at least that countless have discovered differing alternatives to mindful meditation. As an example, carpentry seems perfect for doing this practice.

Years later, it was that I discovered that shoe polishing was similar to the peace found between breaths. This awareness didn’t dawn until I was into middle age. Meditating at some point, then an inkling, then the clear connection to sitting in that closet. The ‘a ha’ moment.

Polishing shoes, who’d a thought it?! I can to this day bring out my moth balled Florsheim wing tips that I keep around for the rare wedding or someone’s burial. There in the solitude of my current life office, which oddly still shares space for my clothes and collection of ‘stuff’ suitable for a seventy-year-old. But now add to that a Buddha decked altar. The old feeling comes back, though now standing up as I polish, it’s more a link or a transference of sorts.

It was my high school buddy Larry who inspired my shoe polishing practice. He recommended it to me one day. Never said the practice could lead to meditative islands of peace. I’m sure, though, that he knew this well. Years later, as a grown man, he joined the Spiritualist Church and for years now has been a reverend in that unique organization.

This polishing to mediation transference is hardly farfetched, of course. The greatest masters will teach how, after a number of years of dedicated practice, one need not go through the entire formal meditation to call forth the peace that has become so customary now. Oh boy, don’t ever take it for granted. Be like throwing yourself under the bus.

In a gentle falling snow, the silent monks walk single file, silent, to the meditation hall. In a way, their shaved heads denote a true declaration of individualism. Some may suggest that shaved heads announce a homogeneity, a similarity. And while there most certainly is a sharing of purpose, what goes on inside each monk is distinct as if they were snow crystals.

It’s okay to try different approaches to mindful meditation. Just as it’s okay to meditate lying down or standing up.

Have fun with it, allow the perception to present itself.

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