annarosenblumpalmer.com
The Buddha's nipple - Anna Rosenblum Palmer
I have moved through the high mountain desert at a snail’s pace. Just this step I tell myself as my conditioning and the altitude argue that I should turn around. It is a short walk from where I am staying at the Shambhala Mountain Center for the retreat and still it is a long journey. We are only in our second day and I have already learned a few important lessons. The first is that we can begin as many times as we need to. The second is that trying to write everything is probably trying to please everyone. Neither of these things are possible even with endless beginnings. Let that shit go. (I might have paraphrased) The third is that I want a heated towel warmer. Our spartan room features mismatched threadbare towels that hang on a heated towel bar. Here at the buddhist retreat I have found a material good to covet. I can let go of this coveting. And I will. By buying one for myself. On the path I pause to take a picture of the reverse footprints of the people who have been here before me. The ground is clear but the snow has stuck into the impressions that their feet made on the earth. I remember what our instructor said the first night. This place in steeped in Dharama. Here they may have stepped in Dharma. On the hillside a woman sits in the sun looking out at the great Stupa. All who come here receive enlightenment. I’m paraphrasing again but in a less shitty way. Seeing her serene face in the light makes it seem possible. She is at least lit. Which is probably a key step to enlightenment. If there are steps at all. Just this next step I tell myself as the sweat begins to bead on my brow. There is a group coming behind me. I remember what my new friend told me at lunch. “We each have to reach the Stupa in our own time. At our own pace.” I try not to hurry to keep ahead of them. They can pass me. I can simply step aside. We have been practicing letting things pass. As we sit in the shrine room we notice thoughts and emotions, label them “thinking” and return our observation to our breath. Here is what my meditation sounds like: Wow are my eyeballs dry? Thinking. Thinking is a verb. Thinking. But here it is a noun. Thinking. So like that other writer said it is a gerund. Thinking thinking thinking. Do verbs want to be nouns? It seems as though nouns would want to be verbs. Some nouns turn into super annoying verbs. Like adult turns into adulting. Ick. Wait, I shouldn’t be thinking ick. I shouldn’t be thinking shouldn’t. I shouldn’t be thinking. Thinking. I didn’t think my eyeballs could get any more dry. Thinking thinking thinking. I’ll just add in a few extra thinkings to plan ahead for my next thoughts. But ...