by Susan Schepp

When listening to a talk, is it possible to listen not just with the ears but with the whole body. Meaning being aware of all that is going on such as;  feeling the energy flowing through the body, a gentle breeze across the face, the sounds of birds, a thought coming into the mind. The words are not really that important. In this open listening between the speaker and the listener, is it possible to experience the words in a different way as though the words are happening but there is no one listening? When we find ourselves thinking, analyzing comparing, judging, when we are identifying with these thought patterns, feelings of being separate arise and we no longer feel part of the whole experience even though we are. However, all this can be seen and in this awareness this identification with thought can collapse into what?  Can this be discovered for oneself?

When I first began sitting, I noticed there were moments when I was not focused on my thoughts about myself. I began to realize there is a different way to be. Being young and naive I thought if I kept meditating that I would become enlightened and would be free of pain. But then I realized that pain is part of life. It became clear that in resisting pain I was creating more suffering. And suffering and pain are not the same thing. We are so conditioned from birth and even before that to believe that pain is something to avoid, protect against at all costs. But in reality, pain is part of being alive.

So why not wonder what is pain really without all my thoughts about it. Is it possible to embrace pain with loving arms and to observe the fearful thoughts surrounding it and its effects on the body mind?  Is it possible to observe what goes on in the mind in a moment of fear or pain? In this observation one can be aware of the arising thoughts, not wanting what is in this moment, and one imagines that things will get worse or that the pain will not go away. The body tenses as we resist the sensations being experienced which only create more pain. But in reality we don’t really know what it is because what we think about it is not it.  So what is pain or fear without the thoughts and past memories about it? Is it possible to just sit with the question not knowing without any expectations and simply observe. In this open looking there is the opportunity/possibility for the body/mind to relax into the experience without resistance.  And then what is this pain or fear? This can to be discovered for oneself if one is open to look with curiosity and wonder.