At times my spiritual practice disintegrates into little more than a box to tick on my self-congratulatory non-action list. Something that reinforces and soothes me, that convinces me that I am neither addicted to incessant action nor compulsively lured by interaction. In these times, a meditation can whoosh by in a barrage of thoughts with little depth or discipline. I am not awake, but merely going through a motion, positioned between a tweet and a phone call. While still of benefit, sitting at these times can feel like it serves only as a forced break in a habitual pace and so I can tell myself that I am still practicing.
Other times, far more than showing up awake and alert for meditation, my practice begins to reach, to stretch into moment after moment, begging me to be awake now and now and now. So as of late, I have been bringing a little more intention to practicing with whatever I am engaged with, rather than just engaging with practice on a cushion with a timer set and a list to check.
Pretty new to my practice, is working with the Three Faces of God. This rich and inclusive meditation brings me into much intimacy with the arising moment. While I am still leaning into what I’m actually working with in these moments, the essential theory of this practice is engaging with spirit in the 3rd person, as an externally arising It. Then in the 2nd person, as an I/Thou relationship. And finally in the 1st person as me as spirit manifest.
On this last Sunday in January, I invite you into my recent Three Faces of God practice on Whistler Mountain, bombing down the ski hill.
In third person, I am observing what is arising. I am watching the mountain unfold beneath my skis and the snow rising up around me. I am feeling the texture of the wind and the gentle kisses of sound sparkling around. The massive snowflakes are cotton balls tumbling from God’s batting eyelashes, dusting empty space. The trees are gathered strong and sturdy, coated in frozen white blankets of what lured me to this grace in the first place.
In second person, I feel clumsy. How do I start a conversation with the divine as this mountain? Third and first person are always easier. I conclude this is due to my ‘spiritual but not religious’ upbringing. God as Thou renders me shy and awkward, like those first few moments of a blind date… how do we get this started? In my embarrassment and self-consciousness, I simply ask…so…anything you wanna say? Slow down. Feel me. Feel me, feeling you. Your every turn flirts with me, carving into me. I am always beneath you, holding you in each moment, anchoring you, while you move me, shape me, express me. I feel how my movement brings me to each new moment to be met by the subtlety of our shimmering conversation.
In first person, I am all of God arising. My lungs are breathing the crisp mountain air that I am, blowing about, in and out and all around this body. The bounce of my knees are the curves of the moguls and the skip of this heart is the slip of this ski. The bite of the cold and the burn of my heat are one pulsing temperature, melting, cooling, merging, arising. The sudden stab of my pole is arising, the pain in my wrist is arising, the swish of this ski, the assaulting wind, the chill at my neck, the laughter of children, my beating heart, the hoots of snowboarders, are all arising. The burn of my thighs, the Earth hiding beneath the snow, shuddering of thoughts are all arising. I AM arising.