Today and tomorrow’s devotional readings were about straying (from our path, our truth, our center) and returning. I read from Mark Nepo’s “The Book of Awakening.”
The moment we stray from where we are, we create a tension between two places – where we are and where we are thinking if being… Straying from where we are and coming back is a never-ending task, very much like breathing or blinking… That we stray from the moment is not surprising. The more critical thing is that we return.
No one can avoid this straying, but our health depends on the breath that stops us from straying further.”
Mark is largely talking about straying from the moment…beginning to think about the future, wondering, perhaps with fear or anxiety. Or, he is talking about in mentally “being in another place,” not fully with the person, moment, or experience that is in front of me. From a broader perspective, I extend this also to straying from my center, my truth, my authentic self, which lives in harmony with how I want to be in the world. Of course, from a recovery perspective, this can mean relapsing – either in a small, spiritual or emotional sense, or in a physical sense, returning to those behaviors that numb, escape, destroy.
Regardless of the context, what I love about Mark’s language is there is no judgement, no shame, no “I should be here” or “I shouldn’t have done x,y,z.” There is neither “good” nor “bad,” “right” nor “wrong.” He acknowledges and allows the humanness in each of us that will stray or wander. In doing so, he helps me, at least, more easily accept this as a truth, a reality. In a sense, this is simple acceptance of the ways things are…striving for progress, not perfection. He then gently calls me to use “that breath that stops us from straying further” and simply focus on the things that will bring me back to my center, my truth, my authentic self.
What a different experience I will have if each time I find myself wandering, I use this gentle self-talk to guide my breathing self back to where I find harmony between my thoughts, actions and aspirations.
Thank you for this gift, O Universe of all living things connected.