even in the rain, snow or dark.
I'll be the first to admit it.
This past week I have been slammed by a serious case of it. The five-foot high snow bank that towers outside our window is showing no signs of melting. After a seductively warm day last week, the temperatures plummeted once more and this morning, snow flakes started to swirl down.
It is mid-February in Maine. We have had months of sub-zero dark and frigidness. And I find myself stuck in my little basement home. With nowhere to go. The walls seemed to be closing in on me. And my mind just freaked. It went bananas. All the worries floated to the surface. All the stress. Anxiety. I didn't do any random laughing or sleeping for long hours. But I did sit at the window and stare bleakly outside and allow the tears to just rain down my face. For no apparent reason. Totally blue.
This morning when my cheerful buddy Alison Skyped me, I couldn't even talk to her. I had to go upstairs and make a cup of tea - or else I was going to start crying again. I was just totally submerged in the blue. Which is strange, because since coming across Buddhism, I have been able to chart an increasingly positive route through life.
So what was the problem?
The wisdom arrived by noontime. I had by this point managed to pull myself into a seated position on my meditation cushion, and press play to the i-tunes recording of a recent Buddhist class in New Bedford, that I couldn't get to as I was too busy being feverish in my cabin.
And the teaching poured down... Karma. Feelings. What is a bad feeling? A bad feeling is simply karma ripening. All I am feeling are effects. Two people can be eating the same meal, one can love it, the other can hate it. Why? Because one of them is having good karma ripening, and the other is experiencing their negative karma.
And when bad feelings arise, like the closing in of my walls, the stress bubbling within - I have to realize that it is not a problem of place, or what I'm doing, or what I'm not doing. There is no 'problem'. There is just an effect arising in my mindstream, from a previous negative action that I committed (could be last week, could be five lifetimes ago), and that is causing me to feel this stress. Instead of pushing away this feeling. Instead of planning my escape route, I need to just accept. I just need to accept where I am, what's happening - and the fact that I feel rubbish because it's a bad feeling arising. That's all.
It was profoundly helpful to hear this news. It made me remember: There is a novel that needs to be written. There are pages of wisdom teachings to read. There are jobs to be done, and recipes to be cooked. There is love to be given to people in my life.
Suddenly the room's walls got brighter. The sunshine poured in. And I felt the room transform from a prison cell, to a writer's studio.
(Photo credit: Little house (Quebec) by Jurek Durczak from Lublin, Poland)