Sunday, June 16, 2013

Working the Stitch

This morning's knitting pleasure was feeling the fabric I'd made bunch up under my hands, a fully realized material that can keep me warm, decorate my home and soothe my spirit. And I considered how, there at the end of the left-hand needle, each stitch separates itself out, in perfect order, ready to be worked by the right needle. Out of the whole pops these little fundamental elements, ready to play their part.

The other night, I felt a completely unexpected feeling, a downward pull in my chest that almost made me weep. I couldn't even imagine what it was all about, but it was urgent and physically sickening and it was not going away. All I wanted was to get away from it. I curled up on my bed and turned on a video.

But something wouldn't let me just run. I'm in the midst of an eight-week meditation class, after all. If I can't sit with this feeling and just feel it, what's the point of having a mindfulness practice, of seeking out instruction in the art of letting go of narrative and just being, even when the being hurts?

So I turned to the recording of the class and found that my feeling was right in step with the spirit of the group, even though I was separated by time and space from them. One student mentioned that she felt uncomfortable, "like a teenager," after a class — the vulnerability and chaos of that time coming back, unbidden. The teacher, Scott, sympathized and, ever handy with a great metaphor, said that in a meditation practice, "ripe fruit just falls off in your hand." The emotions and issues that need to be dealt with just come up of their own accord. That image struck me so powerfully.

It's rare that I don't know (or don't think I know, more accurately) the source or meaning of an emotion. But there I was, brought low by a feeling I couldn't name or interpret or fix. And Scott's words helped me realize, that, like those stitches making themselves available from a fabric already knit, so was this feeling, ancient within me and yet unknowable, coming up because I'd knit a fabric of mindfulness in the weeks before. It wasn't exactly the emotion I'd been hoping for (unfettered joy seemed like a more fitting reward for my efforts) but there it was. Since that night, that feeling has come up once or twice more. It has come to feel like loneliness, or like a feeling of abandonment, but who knows if that's right, or if it even matters.

I'm trying to, as Scott said in the same class, "let go of the storyline and feel the raw feeling." It's just one stitch in the fabric of my life, and working that stitch means giving it room to breathe, to simply exist and be given the attention it deserves.

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