Walking.

He takes another step forward. And stops again.

Shoulders slung low. A shuddering slow intake of breath. And deepest sigh release. Grimy rattle cough deep in his chest. The scent of the plants so blissfully vile, pungent. Angry reminder of this second. And the days stretching back. Uncounted. Landscape blurred memories. Highlight sparks of his aching joints, feet rubbed raw and bloody thorn-stripped shins.

The original path long since lost. The hillside slopes away sharply. Eyes trace a rough track, small indents, brush worn thinner but barely perceptible route into unknowable distance.

Gathering himself he begins to move his right leg forward. And down. Not wanting to fall again. Again. Measured movements through this depth of weariness. With nothing to do but press on as quickly as he can, for fear of the catch. Uncertain now if anything is even on his tail anymore. Or if there ever was such urgency. Crying yearn to just stop stop. Stop. Sit. Rest a while.

Distracted by the wheeling black shine birds. Scrawing dives and screech overhead. Nameless creatures in this daily more familiar, confusion-painted landscape.

Should move.

Step on and down. One two. Movements ragged. Rhythm lost in the flatlight of the noonday blanket cloud. Low and sickly bright gloom. Eyes wavering aim just two footfalls ahead.

Hands snap up and out each weary stumble to catch his wayward balance.

Minutes roll to quarters halves and the hours pass smoothly marked not at all. Pointless counting dropped for soft attention on nothing but the breath. His final companion. In out. Raw-throated passage of life. One two. Step. Breathe. On.

There’s a shape up ahead. Blurred edges. Small construction. Building once useful now broken down. Ramshackle shelter or storage shed maybe? First sign of some long gone life. A hundred paces more. Nervous inspection. Nothing will be inside. But adrenaline coursing. Unfamiliar feelings. What memory? Hazy sense of locked doors. Shut firm against all complaining.

He shakes his head to free the thought and walks towards the lowest corner of what remains. Rubble strewn perimeter. Plant life long since covering the two feet from ground up, as if the earth seeks to suck the stones back into its core.

Half remaining roof creates a shadowy sheltered corner. Steps over a loose pile of stone freshly fallen under weight of weather hands. Across the threshold to look closer.

Something out of place. A tiny glint of light as he moves his head back and forth like a serpent sizing prey. One step forward. Wait a moment. Eyes focussing. Opening their way to the darker recess. Pupils dilating. Kneeling. Hard-edged pain in right thigh grimace. Tight breath in through hard shut teeth.

Half seeing through one good misty eye – half reaching patting palm down to feel where his gaze directs. Small hard object pressing into his right palm. Bringing it up to inspect. Close.

A jewel. Finely cleaved stone. Deep green hue, about the size of the last joint of his thumb. Fat and heavy. Set in a curved metal fastener. Bronze maybe? Tiny symbols and lettering raised up. Not clear. He deftly pockets it and automatically glances nervous behind. Expectant of challenge. Got to move on.

Feels.

Nervousness, agitation, fear and downright terror.

What comes first – the thoughts in your head or the feelings on your skin and in your being?

What stories are you writing – and how are those stories serving to fuel the feelings?
And on and on, cyclical spinning, into deeper darkness.

Stop.

Are the sensations putting you in danger?
Are the stories you’re writing based on a present threat?
Or are you projecting into imagined future scenarios?

Consider for a moment that you can send love and warmth to the creeping adrenaline-based ickniness that’s riding all over your being.

To hold it and give it some love -to breathe with it and simply accept and allow it to be there – might just give it the space it needs to find its way through the infinitely complex and mentally unfathomable landscape of your being.

Anicca.

Everything is temporary.
Everything changes.

Good becomes neutral becomes bad becomes something else.
And it keeps on changing.

Nothing you perceive has substance – and it most certainly is not a permanent structure.
Nothing.

No.   Thing.

Even the mountains.
Were not there once.
And once again will vanish.

But, simply knowing this fact doesn’t change how we feel about feeling bad.

For that to happen you’ll have to go a little deeper.

For some there is a method of meditation, call Vipassana, where the practice is to diligently observe the constantly changing sensations in the body. It works by educating the unconscious mind that what you thought was solid is, in fact, simply not. It is effective in gradually removing all sorts of fear and aversion, as well as addressing our propensity to cling and crave.

Perhaps try this… in this moment, wherever you are, simply let your attention come to the sensations on your skin – your hands, your feet, your face – wherever you might be able to notice them. Be intrigued by what you find – without any judgement or labelling. Are these sensations static – or are they in a constant state of change and flux?

When we were young.

In the past, when confronted with pain, our reaction was to withdraw, run, hide, act out, use, consume, self pity, put up walls, attack others, attack ourselves, wallow, rage, talk and talk, sulk and be silent, embrace addictive habits (mental, physical, emotional), hate the world, seek revenge… and billions more.

Now, as our hearts open we think we might feel less – be more robust – able to float in our spiritual enlightenment above these primitive feelings and methods of protection and escape.

But no.

As the heart opens we feel it all more, not less.

The difference now is that we have choices – very uncomfortable choices – but choices nonetheless.

Now we are aware and present, we are not driven 100% by the unconscious and by the ego.

It feels harder now. Because we think we SHOULD be better. And we MUST act in a more SPIRITUAL and ENLIGHTENED way.

But you’re not quite getting it. That’s your ego talking to you again. Putting a layer of recrimination and guilt on top of the already uncomfortable waves you are experiencing.

Try this.

Sit. Close your eyes. Take some deep full long slow breaths, in and out of your nose – and bring your attention to the sensations and feelings in your body and being.

Accept that they are there.
Relax, and allow yourself to feel them.
Surrender to whatever is present, a little more.

And that includes ALL the feels. All the tears. All the rage. All the all the all the every big and little thing.

And gently move to the heart, away from those spinning thoughts in your head.

Put a little space around what you are feeling.

Breathe. In. Out. Full. Empty. Breathe.

It’s allowed.

You’re ok.

Time.

Every day the same thing happens.

Things get stuck in your head and then they go round and around.

Cyclical and self-limiting.
Self-propelling as they fuel their next iteration.

But it’s clear that the next morning, after a night asleep, that the info is quieter or absent.
And then new info takes its place.
Flaring up at a time of duress or stress or tension or or or…

Your opportunity is to recognise this at source.
To cut it off at the pass.
By coming quickly to breath and sensation – anchored in the heart – not the head

However uncomfy it may seem at the time.

For evidence is showing, day by day, that there is no value in repeating info from the past.
In fact there is damage being caused by doing so.

So, be brave. And exercise your ‘fearless presence’.
Without checking and repeating and attempts at resolution (which NEVER works).

It’s simple addiction.
An old pathway laid down eons ago.
That you are smoothing away, day by day, with presence, breath and compassion.

Smile. It’s a beautiful day.

The 2nd P is for…

positive.

When you feel crap you just feel crap.

But can you take a positive step? Do a positive action? Even while feeling low cruddy rough angry depressed?

Can you… go for a walk – read a book – write a poem – paint a picture – sing a song – ride a bicycle – run run run – swim like a flounder – write a thank you note – cook a meal – or just sit and count your breaths?

Can you do a positive action? Instead of purely wallowing in whatever you feel? And instead of just zoning out in front of a screen that’s pouring information into your brain?

Try.