by P. Braithwaite
There’s a Buddhist saying, “If you see a Buddha on the road, kill him.” I love this saying, and, although I have a statue of Buddha in my home, it serves as a reminder that
On a whim, I decided to head uptown for what I like to call, hippie church. The actual name of the church is Sanctuary NYC, and it is a truly non-denominational church that draws on all wisdom traditions and spiritual contexts. Sanctuary is on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and I live more than an hour away these days (also, it’s football season), so I don’t often attend. On this day though, while still in Brooklyn, I got the urge to get on the train and head there.
So I did.
Typically, if I actually plan to go to church, I bring a few dollars to throw into the collection plate (hippie church is still church; there’s still a collection). This time, however, I’d forgotten. I’d decided to go on such an impulse that I didn’t really prepare (those who know me in real life know I rarely carry cash).
I jumped on the train without being completely aware of my destination, and got there just in time for a meditation on listening to your intuition and choosing to ‘stand in your mission.’ This was very apropos since I’d followed my gut when deciding to jump on the 1 train. I walked in and the Reverend came over and shook my hand. Though I’ve been attending on-and-off for two years, she seemed to mistake me for a new patron. The church is in the process of changing location (as hippie churches tend to do), and the reverend was drawing on the community to figure out the next step.
Lo and behold, when it came time to do the offering, a tall bald man with a broad smile shoved the collection plate in front of me. I felt embarrassment crawl into my face. I shook my head and told him I had nothing to offer.
It gets worse.
For some reason, the reverend was enamored with me throughout the entire service (seriously, this never happens, but she said my name into the microphone several times). She spotted me, came over and ushered me toward the altar.
“Patia, we do a walking offering here,” she said as she gestured toward the altar.
There was music blaring and people were dancing. Luckily, no one was looking at me.
“I know.” I replied. “I don’t have any cash.”
I shrugged as if to apologize with my body.
She touched my shoulder.
“Go down and tap the plate.”
“You are the offering,” she added. “Give yourself.”
In this face-paced income driven world, it is so easy to forget that you have intrinsic value. You are the offering. You are energy. You are good intentions. You are good vibes, and possess the power of prayer. Money is amazing, but it’s just energy. Hugs, real all-encompassing hugs, are energy too. Hugs are probably rarer and more valuable than cash.
There are other sources of energy that make a difference.
There are other ways to affect change in the world.
Use your body. Be the offering. Contribute with balanced mind and open heart. Show up everywhere completely present and as an offering to the Universe. The Universe can work through you.
If you let it.
More and more I’m learning about how I can be of service without worrying about money. This is not an easy (or comfortable lesson), but I’m learning. I’m also learning to receive in exchange for the energy that I bring. So today, as I meet with my business coach and get lost in the morning bustle, I remember the truth: presence is a present. You are the true offering. We are the true blessing. Our value extends far beyond the monetary realm.
We are a vessel for God’s love in the world.
We are love made manifest.
And you know what else,..
I love you with all my heart, and so I pause in this moment, open my heart and humbly offer you great love and blessings for the week.
You’re worth it.
And so it is.
How can you be the offering in your own life?
Meditation is like giving yourself a hug. Seriously. It is. Granted, the “you” that’s giving your “self” a hug, is kind of an asshole. Actually, that person is worse than an asshole. The “you” that hugs your “self” has horrible body odor, and she gets really handsy when you lean in for the hug. She tries to cop feels. She’s a little sweaty and moist to the touch. She gives wet kisses and makes you uncomfortable. Sometimes, you think she’s all loving, but she leans in to give you a hug and then calls you a bitch. She also hugs a little too tight — maybe tries to choke you. Sometimes she slaps you; other times she insults you. You believe her. You always believe her. So you back away slowly.
I’m never hugging that crazy b*tch again, you think.
And you go watch the JETS game instead.
But you should probably give it another shot…
See, so much of what runs across our minds is hurtful, damaging and false. We call ourselves stupid, we convince ourselves we’re ugly, we whisper unsweet nothings into our own ears. We turn events over in our heads until they support our claims – she hates me, I love her, I have to protect what’s mine. Every moment of our lives finds us listening to a soundtrack of our own creation.
Not every thought you think is true.
And so…when we meditate, we bring awareness to our inner soundtrack. We open our minds and our hearts to the words that show up and, on a good day, we let them go. We follow our breath, a thought crops up, we let it go and refocus on the breath. We breathe into the places beyond the mind chatter.
We discover that we’re more than we think we are.
I’m not an expert meditator. I’m not even an amateur meditator. On any given day I’m either avoiding my meditation or writing blog posts in my head when I should be meditating. The thoughts can be constant and oppressive. Some days I’m nervous I’m not doing it right. Other days, I’m replaying old events.
And some days, I can drop into the place beyond the chattering-self.
But, even with all the trouble, my philosophy is this: ANY moment I sit down with myself, no matter what comes up, is a victory for me (myself and I).
Why? It’s simple, you cannot expect anyone to sit down beside you, if you aren’t even willing to sit down beside yourself. You can’t expect embraces (nor can you give them fully) when you aren’t willing to (at least try to) embrace yourself. And if you start to see yourself as a friendly place to live, the entire world becomes a little friendlier. Not all the time; but sometimes. And sometimes is good enough for me.
Meditation is the most compassionate thing I can do for myself – even though sometimes it kind of sucks. But if you can sit down with yourself, if you can create a comfortable place in your own body, you create room for the entire world to sit down beside you.
And, yeah…there are health benefits too.
Do you meditate? Share!