Welcome, dear readers, to a new month of taking put from the meditation cushion and into the world.
Last month I woke up slowly after a month of personal hibernation in Metta Rewilding, to surprise myself with needing even more silence.
Previous articles have explored how put meditation practice has helped me face all kinds of liminality: difficult times in Metta in the Kindtime, sliding doors in Metta Sliding doors, delays Metta Long Corridor, and even my own disappearance and that of others in Metta Disappearance Act and Disappearance Metta.
The Dharma is simply complete, and it used January to reveal yet another liminal nuance: using my presence to emphasize my absence.
Last November, I drew a line in the ground for my last farm team and for my volunteering on organic farms, to opt out of game after game I never signed up for, and to rest and regenerate in the static caravan of volunteers.
A sort of gardening leave.
Although I wanted to step down, I also wanted to protect the team from further fallout. So while I would never deliberately grant someone silence, I felt it was necessary to maintain an impromptu version of a noble silence to prevent even more games and gossip.
It's not an easy tightrope to walk when you genuinely care about the people involved, but also aren't in a position to publicly call out bad behavior. I hoped that my continued presence would reassure those who still needed support – including the land itself – and that my continued absence would disconcert those who still played games.
While I was resting, one of my oldest friends unexpectedly confided to me that he was seriously considering filing for divorce from his wife of 10 years. My heart broke a little when he broke his silence, not so much because of his decision, which I supported, but because of how invisible he had felt during his marriage. A few days after our one-on-one, he informed me that a cousin had wisely negotiated a month-long, no-contact recovery period before discussing next steps.
It gladdened my heart to notice the tone of his texts and his voice clearing almost instantly as he had the chance to listen to himself to learn what was truly best for him in the months to come. Interestingly, he was never tempted to break the silent treatment of the month, but his wife often tried.
Something similar happened with one of my new friends, who unfortunately experienced entering her old woman's life as becoming invisible to society. When I shared last month's article inspired by her, she thanked me for helping her see herself in a new light and make decisions about new roles she wanted to play in the future rather than on the roles offered by society.
When I met my former colleagues, we were really happy to see each other again. Some offered support if I needed it, while others subtly fished for gossip. One of them very kindly texted me saying it wasn't the same farm without me, and another left me a surprise package in the firewood shed. Interestingly, the only one to test my new bloodline in the ground was the player.
I continued to maintain a noble silence to avoid further fallout and match after match that the team also didn't sign up for, and made peace with my decision to walk away when and how I did it.
My daily sessions, however, were some of the most exhausting of my life, as every silent sorrow within me found its voice. Day after day I generated put for every part of me that had ever been silenced and – even harder to face – all the times I had silenced myself. Every time I felt like I had reached rock bottom due to pain, that rock bottom would fall like a trapdoor to reveal yet another layer, much like an MC Escher painting!
My proactive adult self was champing at the bit to find a way to move forward yesterday, while my younger self was throwing himself on the proverbial floor to release pent-up tantrums and finally have a say. Honestly, I was half tempted to ask my friend going through a divorce if he could lend me his wise cousin as a mediator.
While I wouldn't recommend this type of sit-in in a truly dangerous situation, the Dharma compelling me to be absent but present somewhere I no longer wanted to be and no longer felt welcome was quite the rope. inner stiffness walking, feeling too tired. stay and too tired to leave.
No matter how long I sat and listened and soothed and generated put for these younger selves finally finding their voice, in the present, none of my old ways of receiving advice and navigating next steps seemed to work. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when even the little compass on my key fob broke one morning, locking the static caravan door.
Was Dharma itself now giving me the silent treatment?
In desperation, I contacted the Vipassana meditation center where I had sat and served for many years, hoping that they might need help in the kitchen for a few weeks, in case I could get clearer advice there.
Rather poetically, I was both accepted and rejected in conflicting emails within minutes of each other. Since I hadn't returned in the past two years, I had to first complete a 10-day course before serving again. Even if discovering this unexpected closed session at the time really hurt me, the explanation made me laugh given the nearly two months adhithana I was currently sitting alone!
Even more cosmic poetry followed when my email provider was acquired and my inbox of 15 years was shut down without notice. Recover and transfer archived messages and data that I still could, decluttering and defragmentation put-phor was not lost on me.
Rereading fragments of old realities and discovering written evidence that I hadn't imagined the current game - I admit it was easy to doubt myself on this because I'm probably still the only one who didn't Having seen it - I discovered the surface made even older grief and a new respect for how I had handled previous impossible situations.
When I passed a storyteller acquaintance walking her little daughter along the local canal, she told me that her husband was starting a new job across the country next month. A wonderful opportunity for him, but a heartbreak for her to leave behind her network of new parents. I shared how ready I felt to move on, and we both laughed if only we could exchange realities as easily as library books.
She invited me to a weekly community coffee morning where she led the singing until they moved, and it turned out delicious. One particularly poignant song was about walking home, it wasn't a place but a feeling and just being here.
Parts of me could sit peacefully with a feeling of universal abandonment, while others felt devastated and ready to give up. On the darkest day of those days – a full moon, coincidentally – I visited the local goddess temple to place spring daffodils on the altar and to check in on my old friend. When she innocently asked me how I was, I started screaming.
Tears, tears, and more tears flowed as I tried to find the words. I had innocently thought I was taking some time off before getting on another flight, and somehow I ended up having every last piece of luggage x-rayed and thoroughly searched myself. naked.
Bless her, the temple mother coaxed me back to her apartment and left me sobbing and finding words for hours until I felt like I had been well and truly wrung out. And then life went on: We leisurely shared breakfast for dinner on trays on the couch with his pet chihuahua and watched a pottery TV show in which contestants threw pots blindfolded.
Dear readers, I would like for all of our sakes to be able to associate this month's article with an astonishing revelation or words of wisdom after a few months of metta's silent treatment. However, at this point in treatment, I still feel like a lump of wet clay thrown onto the Dharma potter's wheel, waiting for it to decide what it will do with me next.
Or for put-morphs the lyrics into "Unchained Melody" playing in the background of the film's iconic pottery scene Ghost:
Lonely rivers flow
To the sea, to the sea
In the open arms of the sea
Lonely rivers sigh
“Wait for me, wait for me”
Metta you will take me home, wait for me