This has become an intriguing teacher — an eyes open meditation of burning incense and observing the flight path of the smoke as it rises, drifts and seeks to fill the room. It spins and finds all corners and crevices to touch down on. To sit and allow my gaze to be bated by one curl or wisp at a time and watch it turn, stretch, dip and reform until it becomes so diffuse my eyes can no longer identify it. Watch it reach around solid matter, and fine tune the senses to perceive as it blesses your temples or kisses your wrist.
Like many teachers in the physical realm it speaks in metaphor. Observe the origin point burn bright and red hot, fierce and intense in its formation and expression. Watch the initial smoke rising in highly concentrated waves dancing together and then hold your attention to it. Focus your vision and let it be submerged in watching the dissipation start and see that what began in billows starts to soften into slow, languid curls and braids gently wafting by. Study its inherent rise and fall, the inevitability of its vanishing as the last reverberations thin into nothingness.
It follows the same natural order with all other waves of experience - thoughts, emotions, sensations. Spark, flame, burn, billow, dissipate, disappear. If we can allow the natural procession to evolve it moves like this and leaves no traces behind. But we have our own natural tendencies and patterns at work that get us hooked and suspended on one wave or another at various stages in the progression. We pause on the burn or the billow or even somewhere in the dissipation and preserve traces of the experience. Even after the smoke itself has long since disappeared we are storing its remnants. We keep it as memories or stories that we perseverate on and use to shape our definitions of ourselves. We make them integral in our identities and tell ourselves that we are these imprints when in fact they are of you, but not you. While they have shaped and matured us it is soul work now to untie them from where they are bound to us and release them. Let the growth remain, but free ourselves from the freeze-frames and battle scars we are carrying around that keep the story still burning.
See the teachers that abound around you trying to illuminate for you a different way of relating, a way of being immersed in your experience so much so that you extract the teachings and let the rest simply pass on through its natural progression in real time. It is in the way the world works, the body works & relationship works on you to try and demonstrate this cycle to you and provoke circumstances for you to have another run at it. Life is always nudging us to notice the opportunities it is so perfectly creating for us to sharpen our understanding and dismantle our habits and karmic imprints. Divinely placed triggers and encounters purposefully light up old sparks and re-open old wounds for the chance at witnessing their play and unwinding ourselves from the unconscious reactions we have built up to them over days, months, years and lifetimes. Detach from the judgement around it, both of self and other, because we’re all here coping with similar experiences; hooks, triggers, deep buried residues, and doing the best we can to navigate it. Turn your attentions instead to the education life is giving you. Let it be as light as smoke, as bright as the rhythms of the seasons, and trust it as much as the life cycles within nature where life, death and decomposition give rise again to the brightness of new life. Ultimately it is all play; the rise and fall, the trip and stumble, the repetition of our patterns to return again and again to this process of curious learning.
And so I’m here again, sitting with the burn, letting it be an instructive muse as the corners of my mouth tug my expression into amusement. The curl of the smoke is brushing past my waist and my knees and I feel some teaching taking root. It can all be this light and this easeful, the more we show up and play in the work we are here for.