Black&White or Lavender: Integration of Opposites

Entering the vegetal world of the garden feels like entering another realm, one in which bees, sun and lavender are most important, and the checklists piled on my desk at home fade to a nagging memory.

Yet both worlds exist simultaneously. I watch silvery butterflies on a voyage through the fragrance garden, inhale the pungent, sharp smell of lavender blossoms crushed between my fingers, feel the cool spray and hear the air-meeting-water sound of the sprinklers. I judge all of this to be pleasant and easy. Still, the image of my cluttered desk and the tasks waiting there arise in my mind. These, I associate with stress, pressure and unpleasantness.

I spend a lot of energy sometimes trying to make the moments I don’t like as pleasant as those I do. It sets me up to be at odds with conditions which are often out of my control and never permanent anyway. Unpleasantness often motivates me to change, especially in critical situation in which not adapting or changing would affect my health, relationships or community. However, today I find value in suspending judgment and letting opposites exist side by side.

The lulling tumble of water and the raucous clamor of a tractor: both exist at once. I prefer the first and would like the latter to stop and there is nothing I can do about it but notice. Thoughts such as, “It won’t always be this way, Things will change, I can handle this, That job will be done soon,” are cognitions that build distress tolerance and healthy thinking patterns.

Small irritations are an opportunity to practice mindfulness and non-judgment. They are a prep-school for larger stresses and major crises. Currently, I am able to do this practice fully only in slow-motion. Sometimes the equanimity I find in my awareness practice follows me into the busiest moments or might even sit with me at my desk like a faithful assistant.

move (&be) still:
the pace of elders or tai chi,
with time to sense
breath, muscle, bone.
the mind will slip
into this and that.
the senses are a platform to nest on—
return again&again.
I choose only those words needed
to describe my heart-
(beat) to you:
black&white stripes on dragonfly wings,
lavender pollen on the breeze.
everything else
is for later.

-Renee Podunovich, 2015