The Rich Vegetarian

An Examined Life

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The Strange Awkwardness

Have you ever experienced a strange awkwardness?

It seemingly comes out of nowhere and settles in your chest. I feel the slight weight descending within, like a greyish cloud. I wonder where it came from. I look around. I think back to events in the last hour or so. Everything seems to be okay. Was there a disagreement, a barbed remark or argument? None. However, the discomfort is absolutely obvious. I pace around, wondering what to do next. A cup of tea won’t help. A walk outside is a great antidote but I feel like someone’s sitting on my tail… I cannot muster up the enthusiasm to step out. Of course, all meditation teachers will tell you to go meditate. I kinda force myself to do that but I don’t really want to. I try to obey my teachers. Nothing works. I am counting the hours until I can get to bed. Perhaps sleep/oblivion is the only way out.

Next day, I discover that I am running a low fever. Perhaps that was it. I have observed that emotional disturbance causes me to develop a fever. So let’s work it backward. Perhaps there was an emotional disturbance. Really? Maybe I didn’t catch it right away. It is like a tiny thorn that lives under the skin. Too small to pull out but it bloody well makes its presence felt. I wonder how many such thorns exist, pricking my insides, making me bleed within. One day, all the little rivulets will coalesce into a huge flood that gushes out of my body. Or mind.

So, do I pull out every thorn? It isn’t an easy job. It is a matter of skill and patience. You don’t want to cause a gash or wound. Then you think, ahh, never mind. It will stay there a while, and shortly get integrated into the body through scar tissue formation. Or I can simply focus on building awareness, so its clear brilliance throws everything into sharp relief — thorns, gashes, open wounds, blisters, scar tissue. Does time heal all wounds? Does loving attention help?

Is this about sensitive people only? Does this practice help in halting illness? Is it an indulgence or a necessity?