Observe, Witness, Watch

by Jill Sockman

Time Out, Part II

For those of you who have been following my latest drama/comedy, you know already about last month’s Time Out From The Universe. I missed a class, spent the better part of a day locked out on the second-story balcony, and worried a few folks (not least Padma) in the process. Well, apparently I had lessons of solitude still to learn. Shocking.

I had the pleasure and privilege of spending last week in Colorado. My teacher lives in the Roaring Fork River valley, and it’s one of the most spectacular, heart-expanding, mind-bending, pranified places I’ve ever been. To say I love it there does not even come close. To sit with my teacher, in my sangha of fellow teachers gathered from all over the world, it’s bliss.

Leading into my departure for this intensive time of study, my back had been a little tweaky – the first time in a long, long, long time. I did what I could to stabilize the situation before I left for an epic day of travel, invoked the power of a few unseen friends, and set off. Upon arrival, I felt uncomfortable but elated to be “home.”

Arriving at the training site, a working ranch under the watch of Mt. Sopris, I felt grateful, excited to back in student mode. We sat for a long opening lecture and moved into an extended physical practice, after which I was, let’s say, on beyond uncomfortable. By mid-afternoon, my sacrum fully out of whack, a nerve pinched, and everything from hip to shoulders seized to try to help out, I was on the floor, tears streaming, waiting for an opportunity (and a way) to get up and out of the room unnoticed. (insert the cackle of The Universe here.)

By the time I got back to my cabin up the mountain (where I was staying alone and have no cell service), I could barely get out of the car, and it was with a whole lot of shouting when I finally did. Here I was, in the middle of my version of paradise, with my beloved teacher and my people whom I see twice per year if I’m lucky, totally debilitated and cut off from civilization. My mind drifted from the WHY? WHY?? WHY??? questions to the landfill of a lifetime of thoughts and emotions around identity, worthiness, comparison, judgment, insecurity, vulnerability… It was AWESOME. And yes, that is echoed from the deep, desperate chasm of sarcasm.

What was NOT lost on me, fortunately, eventually, was why I was there. The course material was on The Evolution of Consciousness. And here I was, wallowing in the identity of Self in the human body, drowning in the negative chatter of the monkey mind. In other words, just-come-down-out-of-the-trees in terms of consciousness evolution. #failfailfail

I missed Day 2 of the training and spent a whole lot of time with myself. Again. And again got my head and heart right. The body is another story, so I turned with as much gratitude as I could muster for some more karma burned in the physical realm. I returned for the rest of the training on Day 3, took in as much as I could, participated where possible, and humbly surrendered the rest.

Why do the lessons look as they do, arriving (usually) as inconveniently as possible, recurring in unpredictable (and infuriating) patterns? There is no point to ask why. There is only to continue to cultivate the part of us that observes, witnesses, watches; to grow the stable and steady center; to continue to make more and more space between that watchful place and life as it happens, in all its glory, from moment to moment. You are not this body. You are not these thoughts. You are not these ever-changing emotions. You are pure consciousness, beyond duality, containing everything – and nothing at all.

Yep, still working on it.