Keep a circular breath flowing, Gary. Notice the freshest possible air coming in through your nose and, unobstructed, out through your mouth.
Breathing in, breathing out. Breathing in, breathing out.
There is only the air — freshest and sweetest possible.
Only the air…
Then I was gone.
When I came back to the mat on the floor – Was it an actual thud? Had I been floating? – it was with such force that I cried out, not so much in pain as in disappointment. I was back. The re-birther held me as I sobbed about the ecstatic beauty of the moment.
That was thirty years ago when my meditation practice each day was at its peak. It was then that I took on an attitude that has mostly stayed with me ever since. This perspective helps me tremendously with the criticisms I hear about myself, the criticisms I hear about others, and the criticisms I have of others. It serves me well in my criticism of the products, services, and plans that I experience in my life.
The attitude is captured in this sentence:
All statements are equally true.
For example, the moon is made of cheese – in cartoons. Donald Trump is the worst presidential hopeful in our lifetime – in my friendship network. Hillary Clinton is the mother of the baby Jesus – among some of my Facebook contacts. Bernie Sanders is the Messiah – among others in my Facebook feed. Pope Francis fully supports same-sex marriages – among the chronically hopeful. I am the devil – in the hours before and after I give a tough midterm exam.
The task that comes with this attitude about the truth of all statements is to discover the context in which it is true. I know myself to be a good man with good intentions. Sure, I make mistakes, even hurtful ones – mistakes I need to clean up. But the devil? YES! I am the devil in the context of a higher education system in a country where competition is worshipped, working-class and middle-class students are strapped with staggering debt, and the relationship of students and teachers is not acknowledged for what it is, namely a relationship.
In this I am not implying that my reality is THE reality. I am saying your reality is as true as mine from the perspective that each of us has been led to hold. I can elect to adopt your perspective to see your truth and find my truth in your critique. I can then decide if I need to clean up after my error or shift my behavior going forward. I can also decide to thank you for sharing your perspective.
Though I might feel bruised by criticism, I am not dead. If I were dead, I would not care because I would be dead. I do care, though, because I am alive and I elect not to be killed by your truth.