This Candleflame Instant

This Candleflame Instant

As essence turns to ocean,
the particles glisten.

Watch how in this candleflame instant
blaze all the moments you have lived.

–Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks, A Year With Rumi, p 326)

I light a candle and I take a few deep breaths.  What can I write about when my inner world feels so turbulent?  I put a drop of frankincense essential oil in my palm, rub my hands together, cup my hands, breathe deeply. Frankincense has been used for centuries to assist people in reaching meditative states, calming the mind, purifying the air.  I pray that in this moment my life will make sense.

I watch the candle flickering, and I search for the words to express what I’m feeling.  Just a moment ago I was assailed by thoughts, now I’m drawing a blank.  What am I feeling?

Tired. Nothing else really comes to mind.  I haven’t had a night of deep, restful sleep since I began taking Wellbutrin on Tuesday; I’m jumpy, I continue to have a shorter fuse than I’d like, the physical exhaustion is making me foggy, it’s bringing me down.  I wonder if I made the right choice in taking this medication.  I wonder how long I’ll have to wait to find out if it is working for me or not.  I feel broken. Depleted. Empty.

A part of me wonders if at some point I’m going to break through the dark haze and remember the spark of divinity in me.   Just one spark is all that is needed to light the fire of awakening, but once lit, the fire must be tended.  My meditation practice is one way of tending this fire, but how much progress can I make when I’m fighting drowsiness at night, barely able to sit upright for fifteen minutes?  Has my fire gone out, and I’m just going through the motions of tending it, adding damp fuel on top of dying embers, not realizing the futility of my efforts?

It’s going on three years since I began my practice, and I ask how much has really changed in me?  Has anything changed?  There’s a cynic in me that says I have done all of this work for nothing.

Or perhaps my meditations really are having positive effects on my life, but the effects are so subtle that they cannot be easily grasped by my analytical mind?

Just for this moment, I will believe that I’m capable of transcending any difficulty with which I am faced. I will try to sit now, because this is what I have done for the last 926 days and in spite of the cynic, some part of me believes that this will help.

I hope to stay awake and aware, but I don’t have much fight in me right now.  If I begin to nod off, I’ll put myself to bed. Ok, here goes…

A spark is all that is needed to light the fire of awakening.

A spark is all that is needed to light the fire of awakening.

2 responses »

  1. I have great admiration for Dr. Christiane Northrup. Something she said in a talk I heard years ago made a strong impression on me, and I try to remind myself of it occasionally. She was talking about the importance of listening to your body–something I felt that I was already doing. Then she went on to explain what that included: stopping what you are doing to go to the bathroom, resting when you are tired, sleeping when you need sleep, eating when you are hungry. Women tend not to do these things, yet these are very basic needs. When we fail to cultivate these foundational habits, regularly overriding them in favor of what we consider higher priorities, it effects everything in our lives.

    In our culture, we often value discipline and hard work over common sense, and sacrifice over self care, but there are times when I think that’s a mistake. It’s so hard to let go of some things–especially once we have become invested in them. I struggle with this often. But once I let go–or even just loosen my grip–I often wonder why I waited so long.

    • Lenora, I have loved Dr. Northrup since I heard a recording of a talk she gave decades ago. I got a copy of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom and was inspired to take a good look at how my daily choices were affecting my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well being. It’s true what you said about how everything in our lives will be affected if we fail to meet our own basic needs. I’ve seen this theme played out countless times in the dynamic between myself and my children–how if I make sure I’m fed, I can take better care of them, I’m more patient, more calm…but if I forget to feed myself, I become edgy, short-tempered, speeded up, even frantic. I wish that we as a society–even as a world culture–could begin today showing greater support and encouragement for caregivers so that their needs might be met and the care they provide might come from a place of healthy, balanced awareness.

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