a little something extra

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Sabbath 5

Before I plunge ahead into this week's chapter, I want to confess: I did not perform well on last week's exercise. Every once in a while I would remember the three-breaths idea, but I failed to attach it to any trigger or to do it regularly.

Oh well. I'll find a way to have it take root, or I won't. Even if it doesn't work the way Muller envisions it, any time a person stops to take a few quiet, full breaths, that is a Good Thing (tm).

This week's chapter is entitled It Is Good. Unfortunately, I think the chapter wasn't, particularly. Good. In this chapter, Muller give free rein to his tendency to bend scriptural ideas to fit his idea of rest. He even coins an unnecessary word, "rhythmicity." Give it a rest, Wayne.

Though the chapter as a whole didn't do much for me, one of the ideas Muller puts forward in this chapter did. He addresses the concept of innate human wholeness. I actually groove with this idea, that everyone is essentially whole and healthy, though there are times of pain, grief and difficulty which temporarily obscure that basic condition. But at root, we are each whole and, to borrow the chapter title, good.

Muller moves on to discuss how he understands and employs this concept in his work as a therapist. And here we part ways again. When Muller works with patients who are grieving or in pain, (he says) he believes his role is to remind them that they are essentially whole, and to believe in that wholeness when the patient isn't in a position to do so himself or herself.

This is where we differ. When I'm in pain, I don't want to be told that I'm essentially all right. I know that already. What I want is for my pain to be acknowledged, and not diminished or brushed away. So, dear readers, if you're ever in a situation to deal with me when I'm grieving or in pain, practice this phrase which will come in handy: "Wow, you're right, that really sucks."

Interestingly, though the chapter didn't hold much for me, one part of the exercise at the end of the chapter did. Here's the quotation I like...

[Buddhist meditation teacher] Sharon Salzberg suggests we practice guerrilla compassion -- silently blessing people on line at the bank, at the supermarket, in the cars next to us in traffic.

The basic blessing phrases Muller uses in this chapter are "May you be happy. May you be at peace."

There's nothing in those phrases about God, or Jesus, or Buddha, or any other divinity or organized spiritual system. Just "May you be happy. May you be at peace." Even if all that is behind the phrase is our own personal momentum, I still think that's significant.

And, it definitely feels good to do it. I recommend it strongly to everyone. Go on out there and practice some guerrilla compassion, especially at this time of year when schedules tend to be unusually packed, and tempers can grow short from fatigue, hunger, cold, darkness, and stress. You'll never get caught, and it will feel goooooood.


At 7:02 AM , Blogger Cristopher said...

this is an advance comment--I *do* hope you'll be able to share something of your experience of silence at Friends meetings for this week.

With a five-year-old in the house, silence ain't happenin much round here!

At 9:32 AM , Blogger Megan said...

So noted! I haven't read the chapter yet, but I will bear it in mind tonight.


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