Yesterday, two days after standing on a nest of red ants and getting some nasty bites on my left foot and leg, i walked over to the ashram clinic to have them looked at.
After checking in at the front window i went and sat on a bench across from the door to the doctor’s office. A well worn, faded piece of fabric hung like a curtain across the doorway. The waiting area was large and open to the outside where people walked along a dirt path with trees. The space had a laid back feeling and reminded me of the village clinics in southern Mexico.
A couple of men sat on a bench next to mine and two others stood on either side of the doorway. It seemed like every few seconds the man on the right side of the door would part the curtain a tiny bit with his hand and peak inside. I was curious whether he was waiting for someone receiving treatment or if, by this gesture, he was soothing his impatience. A third man appeared and positioned himself right next to the man on the left side of the door. I watched, wondering how this dance worked. I had placed myself across from the door so i would be visible when the doctor called the next patient.
A patient walked out and the man who had been peaking into the treating room disappeared past the curtain, and now two were left. Okay now i get how this dance is done, the closest one to the door gets in. Shortly thereafter a patient came out, walked away, and there was a changing of the guard. Another man came up and leaned next to the door. Namah Shivaya i said to get his attention. He turned toward me and i tilted my head in an upward gesture directed to the curtain to indicate that i was waiting in line. He acknowledged me by slightly shaking, more like a wobble, his head from side to side in what i have come to understand is Indian sign language for yes or okay.
I stood up and went to sit on a chair right by the door. So now there were two of us, myself and the man who knew i was next.
Two young men walked up and paused a few feet from us. They were speaking a language i didn’t understand and i imagined to be Malayalam, but i acknowledge that i cannot distinguish between the languages of India. I noticed one of the young men was holding a piece of paper. They glanced at the two of us who were already there, and walked off a short distance as they continued talking and eyeing the curtain.
I was watching them, more like tracking them.
When i look back on the moment when i first noticed the piece of paper and saw the two young men talking while eyeing the curtain, i am aware that i experienced a physical contraction. A tightening in my jaw, my chest, in my heart. That’s the moment! The one i want to gently capture, to bring into my awareness, to breathe into and shine light on. To slow down and be with.
In her book Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves From Old Habits and Fears Pema Chödrön talks about “Shenpa” which is a Tibetan word for ‘Attachment’ and which i understand is the moment when we get triggered. It arises as body sensations that precede thoughts or emotions.
Looking back on this particular moment i see myself responding internally to this young man with a closing of my heart, followed by the judgments, thoughts like: You’re not really going to try and slip in are you? What’s with this cutting in line thing? How and why is this ok? You’re just going to slide right in, without saying anything? Not on my watch! And somewhere in the recesses of my being i was aware of what i was experiencing. As if i were watching myself but i was too far away and could not quite connect.
Within a short moment the young man came back and stood silently between the two of us who were already waiting on either side of the door. He stared straight ahead at the curtain, then down at his piece of paper and back up at the curtain.
I looked up at him from my chair. “There is a line” i said.
“I need to get a health certificate” He responded. “Yes, and there is a line” i repeated.
He paused, turned to his companion, they exchanged some words and walked away.
My voice was calm and quiet yet my heart was tight, guarded, as if i had something to protect, as if something was going to be taken away from me.
As i write i take in a deep breath.
I notice apprehension, frustration… a longing for care, consideration…
Breathe into the apprehension, breathe out care.
Breathe in, breathe out….
Awareness. Breath. Presence. Clarity.
To this moment, this contraction, i say:
I want to gently capture you,
To be with, and pour light into you
who are a gateway to my inner freedom.
To pause, welcome, and breathe into you, and everything you teach me.
To let you flow through my fingers.
In this breath, this timeless pause, space opens up, there is light and i can choose who i want to be, what i want to say, and how i want to act.
Breathe into remembering that there is enough care for all.
Breathe into loving kindness.
Breathe in abundance and through this breath open my heart.
Breathe out abundance for this young man standing in front of me.
Breathe in and fill my whole being with care.
Breathe out care for this young man standing in front of me.
Breathe in care for all beings.
Be Care May i open my heart
Amritapuri, November 15, 2014