I was lying in my living room the other afternoon, enjoying a fire and the coziness of a warm house in the winter, with the sun shining into the windows. Because of the holidays, we had moved our sofa into a new location, and I had an unusual new perspective of the living room at this hour of the day. When I looked up from my book, I was surprised to see that it was snowing…in our living room. Frankly, it was nearly white-out conditions in that room.
Once I got over my shock, I realized that it wasn’t actually snow swirling around every square inch of our living room, but rather tiny dust particles. I called my husband into the room and showed him how amazing it was. I was mesmerized by the beauty of the dust storm. Like snowflakes, each speck of dust was unique with different sizes and shapes. Even so, I was dismayed to know that there was that much dust swirling around our living room! It took me 15 minutes to accept that my living room could contain that much dust, and then let go of the thought that perhaps our house was unfit to be occupied by humans.
What I came to realize was that the dust is always there. I can’t normally see it, but I saw it then because of my location in the room, and the angle that the light was shining in at that time of day. The conditions were simply right for me to see it.
It’s interesting to think about all that we don’t normally see. We think we know the reality of our lives until we have an experience that shows us otherwise. Our conditioning and our beliefs, like my usual position in the room, and my thinking that my house is dust-free, prevents us from seeing what is really there. In a new position, and open to the possibility that my house could be filled with dust, I saw another layer of reality. I woke up to what was really there.
It’s like that in the rest of our lives too. When conditions are right, we can see what is. We can create conditions for awakening by practicing yoga and meditation and letting go of our limiting beliefs. To see the reality of the person who is really in front of us, we can shift our perspective by stopping and breathing, and then be open to any and all possibilities. Then the true nature of the person we are with can be seen. It’s a gift to each other to see the beauty of who we really are.
When we dare to take a different seat in the room, when we take what Ajahn Chah calls the “one seat,” we begin to awaken. He says:
“Just go into the room and put one chair in the center. Take the one seat in the center of the room, open the doors and windows, and see who comes to visit. You will witness all kinds of scenes and actors, all kinds of temptations and stories, everything imaginable. Your only job is to stay in your seat. You will see it all arise and pass, and out of this, wisdom and understanding will come.”
This is our yoga. The courage to take a new seat and be open to the possibility that our living room can be a blizzard of dust, that we can make mistakes, we can grow and learn, we can do a challenging yoga pose, we can sit in meditation for 10 minutes, we can share difficult news, we can reveal who we really are to our loved ones. While we may never know the whole of reality, we can start to glimpse it now and then. Something as mundane as dust particles can be a moment of beauty and joy, and someone as mundane as the person practicing next to us can be a friend.
May we choose to take our seats and see the reality of what and who is on the path with us.