How ironic that searching for an insomnia cure brought me greater awakening.
It was inevitable, really, since the overriding principle in getting to sleep , I realized, was to focus on breathing, something I'd done since birth ... without awareness of it.
Only by beginning to meditate did I also become aware of other routines, planted deeply and unnoticed dating back to growing up in a cesspool of negativity, judgment and other ways of thinking. One day, as if "Amazing Grace" had gone off in my head as I was walking the dog down our driveway, my ship found itself needing to be turned around.
I believe it was at a moment of feeling judged that it dawned on me, spontaneously, that I wasn't really being judged; it was just a reflection of my own tendency to judge that was coming back to haunt me. And without even thinking, I realized that my inner grumbling was nothing but an echo of the parental cursing that had been almost constant background noise.
Years ago, John Ladd, a friend who I'd long respected, gave a talk about inner voices. It was a simple theme -- that the things we tell ourselves about ourselves always come back to haunt or inspire us. But somehow, it was the right message at the right time. And I'll never be able to thank John enough (especially since he's now long gone.)
The "awakening" to my inner narrative, as my meditation guide Mark Hart calls it, helped me fashion, over time, a new roadmap for what had been planted in my brain. Now, more than 10 years later, I'm still reciting the "script" I began reading to myself for metta, or what's called "lovingkindness meditation." I never expected that it would be anything I would memorize, but after it reading it, day after day, that just happened, like breathing.
After all those years, I'm sorry to report, I'm hardly through with my makeover. That's a lifelong challenge, I recognize. But I hear the lines of my 12-minute-long "mantra," as I like to call it, ringing in my head when I violate any of these self-imposed guiding principles. And that's cerainly become a set of alarm bells that sound up there when I'm misbehaving.
I can't emphasize enough how personalized each bead on this rosary is, and it wouldn't work for everyone. But I'm sharing part of it here in the hope it might inspire a way for friends to awaken to ways we might be setting ourselves up. Create your own mantra if it helps. Discover your own grace. It's right there.
May I find grace in each moment.
May I love myself and appreciate myself for who I am.
May I have the capacity to love all other people and appreciate people for who they are. May I make an genuine effort to do that.
May I see the spark of the divine in others. May I always try to connect with others as they are, not as I’d want them to be, even people who seem like polar opposites of myself, even someone so close to me that I may take them for granted.
May I see the potential for friendship in each person. May I try to deepen every relationship.
May I remember to give myself hugs and pat myself on the back for my accomplishments. May I appreciate the accomplishments, and trials, of others. May I help them feel good about themselves.
May I not judge other people. May I go easy on other people, and myself. May I have faith in others, and myself.
May I be positive. May I be patient. May I pluck negativity as soon as I notice it, whatever form it comes in. May I guard against evil speech and watch my language.
May I be less competitive. May I be more compassionate and cooperative. May I never push people down, believing it will leave me feeling better about myself.
May I be open .... open to the may layers of each person, the many layers of reality and the wonders all around. May I be focused.
May I know what's in my heart and mind and be willing to share it.
May I know the vastness of the sky, and know the same vastness is within me. May the sky be a constant reminder of spaciousness, of patience, of generosity and gratitude. May I know the range of my emotions, and ay I embrace my emotions.
May I appreciate the abundance of the universe, and to the wonder that's all around me. May I not be jealous or envious. May I not crave or hoard. May I be generous of spirit, and may I act on that generosity. May I not succumb to the mindset of scarcity. May I help those for whom scarcity is very real.
May I be grateful for all that I do have in my life. May I treasure each day
May I see the humor in all situations. May I not take myself too seriously. May I lighten up and appreciate the grand comedy of the universe.
May I honor all of those who have nurtured me: friends, family, teachers … and may I seek to nurture others.
May I lay down my burdens of judgment, of fear of what others might think, fear of standing up for what I believe in, of negativity, of guilt. May I live my values.
May I forgive others for any suffering they may have caused, knowingly or unknowingly. May I be forgiven for any suffering I may have caused, knowingly or unknowingly,
May I find grace in each moment. May I find grace in each moment. May I find grace in each moment.
Grace, I've discovered, is already there, waiting for me to awaken.