There was a lot of smoke in the air yesterday wafting from the Happy Camp Complex fire which is not so far away from Mt. Shasta, as the smoke blows! Mt. Shasta was hidden from view, the tree tops where holding a bit of smoke and you could smell it in the air. As the day progressed I noticed various physical symptoms such as dry eyes and nose, sneezing, headache, skin feeling creepy and my breathing becoming laboured. But what I didn’t connect with being a consequence of the smoke was a growing sense of anxiety and worry. Anxiety can attached itself to anything handy and yesterday it connected to an area of garden and the non functioning of the automatic watering system. The worry grew and grew and by the end of the day, projecting forward into the future I could see dried up azaleas on their last legs getting ready to die. All because the automatic watering system wasn’t working correctly.
By late afternoon I realized I was well out of balance. My level of anxiety was out of proportion to circumstance. I eventually said to one of the monks, I think I need to be locked up! I’d been trying to mobilise help from various monks connected with the watering system and noticed they were looking at me in a kind of ‘patient’ way! Anyway the kind and very wise monk said, Well there IS something wrong! The ancient part of your brain is registering danger. Get away, fight the fire. So with the realization that the smoke was the trigger for the over the top anxiety about the watering system and that the fires were not a threat and was being dealt with I relaxed. I let go of the near death bushes and got on with the rest of the day.
Interestingly as we all sat in the meditation hall this morning I noticed a level of internal buzz in myself. Reflecting, I realized that the fire, the burning up of vast acres of forest and the efforts of the firefighters relatively close was in some subtle way resonating in me.
Where ever one is and what ever the conditions internally and externally we will resonate with those conditions. More often than not it’s not possible to find causes to the way things are within oneself, as I did with the smoke and fire. The basic training instruction is to ‘sit still within the midst of conditions’. This does not mean one FEELS still, far from it. Sitting still is an intention not a standard to live up to and something to feel badly about when it seems we are falling short.
You might want to listen to the Dharma talk given last Sunday at Shasta Abbey called Searching For Safety given by Rev. Master Serena Seidner.