11: Dignity

Peaceful abiding.

“Through peaceful abiding, we learn to rest fearlessly in our natural state, which is basic goodness. We experience basic goodness when we relax deeply into how things are, without wanting to change them. This is why we meditate.” ~ Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

Like most things, everyone comes to meditation in a different way. However you come, why-ever you’re there, there’s a “right” way to do it.  Grounded, on your seat.  Hands in a natural resting place on the top of the thighs.  Eyes open but with a soft gaze on the floor in front of you.  Tongue to the roof of the mouth, relaxed jaw, lips slightly open.  Easy, natural breathing.  Soft, open belly.  Spine like a stack of coins holding our body and head with dignity, as if it must hold the crown on the top of our head.


Unitarian Universalists (UU’s) don’t have a unifying text or set of spiritual beliefs.  It’s about giving people the space to incorporate their own experiences and values  into their spiritual life.  A “free and responsible search for truth and meaning” they say.  Choose-your-own-adventure a friend of mine calls it.  But there have to be some rules right?  Some common foundation.  Some understandings.  The first? The inherent worth and dignity of every person.

Dignity.  There it is again.

Mother’s Day is a wonderful day.  For most people.  It’s also a complicated day.  For most people.  The simple thing, the thing social media boils it all down to, is to be joyful and appreciative.  It’s an important thing to be sure, a thing people sincerely feel and want to express.  It’s also not usually so simple.

Today’s Mother’s Day service at my UU church reminded me of this fact.  Before a moment of shared mediation, we reflected on the celebration of wonderful, present, inspiring mothers…but also, those who fell short, or were absent, those whose presence death has taken from us permanently, those who lost children, those who made the choice not to have a child, and…those who want to be a mother and cannot.  All around me people young and old wiping tears from their eyes.  Happy tears, sad tears…complicated tears.  I could not stop my own tears when our worship associate, a woman I don’t know as well as I’d like to but admire a great deal, so bravely shared her own story.  “Nineteen times”….she began.  A story of desperately wanting to be a mother, but having to accept her reality and make the best of it.  She faced this congregation with such strength, and such vulnerability.

In meditation our posture reminds us of this precise predicament.  When we meditate we sit with a tall straight-strong back but we expose that gooey center, the heart, the lungs, the belly, the core of us.  The source of our literal life.  We sit still and calm, wherever in time and space, not reacting.   Quiet, still.  Not so we can listen and suspect and prepare for the danger that might be lurking, but so we can be present.  To whatever, whatever,  IS right there in front of us.  And always, of course, with dignity.

I struggled with this a very long time.  Why can’t I just fold my hands in front?  It’s not really that big a deal.  It’s just more comfortable.  Yes.  It’s more comfortable.  Comfortable because it is a barrier.  A shield, however small, from the most vulnerable parts of myself.  The parts that even I don’t want to see myself.  And so…I must open, and I must resist that urge, and I must relax, and I must see.

“Through peaceful abiding, we learn to rest fearlessly in our natural state, which is basic goodness.”  I saw basic goodness today.  Modeled by a woman who didn’t seem afraid of whether people would think she was “oversharing” or that our Mother’s Day talk wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows.  She told her story with strength and vulnerability…and with dignity.  It inspired me.  I think it probably inspired many.  And it reminded me that of a word that others keep using about this journey.  Alone.  “I felt so alone.”

There are too many for any to be alone.   So, I am trying out a new idea.  It’s the Warrior page.  A place to declare, to question, and to just be seen.  Consider visiting and consider submitting.  Because we all need someplace to expose those ooey gooey soft places…with dignity.  So that we may become fearless warriors.




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