Last year, at the start of my three-month retreat, I woke up deaf one morning. Prescribed steroids, it would be six weeks before I could have an MRI to confirm whether there was a tumour. For years, I had been the one to counsel and encourage others during illness and loss. Now, alone and in silence, could I walk my talk?
I fought to maintain the simple rhythm of each day, cleaning, meditating, chanting, feeding the birds, and going for walks. But this time, the waiting without knowing had an edge that caught me by surprise. Fractious thoughts defeated every effort to coach myself with scriptural readings or reflections on karma. All too soon, an insistent restlessness wrung the last vestige of calm from me.
I could only watch the guests come and go and feel all that I was feeling. Even as my faith shrivelled, I knew there was no other way to be – no escape but to face things as they were – and persevere. I determined to make this waiting time part of my meditation practice, not separate from it, prevailing with as much patience and candour as I could muster.
So I prepared myself to befriend, unconditionally, every guest that came to my door.
This reflection by Ayyā Medhānandī is from the book, Gone Forth, Going Beyond, (pdf) pp. 35-36.