sitting with discomfort

I love Rumi and today, when searching for a quote of his, found one I had not read before:

If you are irritated by every rub, how will you be polished?

This one line says everything about sitting meditation practice, mindfulness practice, and basically leaving behind the extreme sensitivity that seems to have become a hallmark of human nature as we become more and more infantile through constant and immediate gratification, egocentricity, loss of meaning in our work lives (which is further compounded by extreme inequality in wealth distribution around the world), and “me-ism” taken to extreme levels.

How can one grow when the moment an uncomfortable sensation crops up in body or mind, the impulse is to squash it, ignore it, justify it, or chase it away immediately? As Paula says about sitting meditation, the number of seconds it takes for us in sitting meditation before we are complaining about something in our minds is about the time our nervous system can take it. Take what? Anything. Any. Thing. Any pain, any discomfort, any confusion, any ambiguity or confusion or un-definedness. And for most of us, that time period is pretty short. Seconds short.

So this one sentence reminds us of the gift of sitting with discomfort. We can begin to ventilate our damp and stuffy places, polish our craggy and rough surfaces. With one line, Rumi expresses something which humans have made a habit of not doing. If most of us endured the rub, thousands of bars, churches, shopping malls, psychiatrists, drug makers and pushers, cosmetic surgeons, and credit card companies might cease to exist.


~ by Lola on April 21, 2010.

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