I met my first Alstroemeria yesterday. Here she is, resplendent in pink!
Our group sat yesterday as we do every month in Magdalena’s home. Once again we were graced with beautiful Ikebana as a centerpiece to our small community. Alstroemeria, or “Lily of the Incas,” is a hardy perennial, growing in its native Andes. It needs at least 6 hours of sunlight daily, but can survive to temperatures as low as 23 degrees F.
The work of mindfulness needs similar care. Like our friend Alstroemeria, there are certain qualities that must be attended to in order for our practice to survive and thrive. We must have intentionality if we are to be mindful. That is, there’s a need to bring focus to each day, each hour, and eventually each moment. Our formal practice helps us to look into the nature of our minds, learn how it works. Am I distressed by events, or is it the thought I am having about an event that is distressing me? Not all events that lead to distress are actually distressing; it’s good to know the actual source, so we can respond with skillfulness. With the intention to be mindful throughout our day firmly established in formal practice, we are ready to bring the equanimity of a compassionate observer to each moment of the day.
Another quality that our practice needs in order to survive and thrive is our attitude of radical acceptance. My first reaction is often to have aversion to what life is presenting to me in this moment. I find it so difficult to allow my body and mind to wrap around reality as it is occurring and commit myself to work with it as it actually is, rather than rail against it because it isn’t what I KNOW it should be. And thus I suffer, until my practice restores my acceptance.
This sitting, such a simple act, always available in the moment our intentionality and acceptance are restored, becomes our life. Like the Alstroemeria our lives abide moment to moment if we are open minded and open hearted. I felt tremendous joy yesterday gazing at the Alstroemeria. It needed nothing. There’s was nothing I could say or do that could make it better, or change it in any way. It was sufficient, just like each of us are sufficient, if only we have the intentionality and acceptance to realize it.
Off to run now. Good morning sit, a good run, maybe a good book. What a great day it is!
PS I also learned that Alstroemeria are very commonly used in bouquets, especially at weddings. So this is probably not the FIRST Alstroemeria I’ve ever met (literally), but it sure felt like it!