This morning my baby woke, as usual, and I picked him up and gave him his milk, as usual, and we snuggled down back under the duvet, as usual. Mostly he takes the warm bit and I have to have a cold bit, with no pillow. This has also become our habit.
He is clearing a cold, so he coughed. Then he coughed a bit more, and then so much that I suddenly heard and a millisecond later, felt, vomit running down my face. My immediate reaction was disgust, then high speed stripping the bed and pillow to reduce the smell lingering….
But as I began the process of washing EVERYTHING, I realised that it has been a couple of months since this happened. In fact, this rude awakening prompted me to remember just how good and healthy he has been recently. In fact, I almost felt gratitude. I was up and in the shower quicker than usual, and the washing machine was emptied and reloaded with great speed! Unexpected ‘bonus’.
There is an ancient tale of a prince of high standing who was raised in a hut in a swamp as a potato farmer. As he grows, he can see the place in the distance and wishes he could visit one day. What would life be like if …? he dreams.
In a Disney-esque plot twist, the royal guard turns up one day and tell him that in fact he is the future king and needs to come and live in the palace he has been hankering for.
Amid great excitement, he takes his new position and all is well. A few months later, as the excitement of the new has subsided, now replaced by political intrigues and the pressures of responsibility. As he is standing on his palace walls, he looks out at his old hut. Reminiscing, the prince says “My hut, my hut! If only I was there, life was simpler then”.
With the power of the palace at his disposal, he summons his escort and demands they take him back. At first, he enjoys seeing the old place, but as he settles in, he remembers the damp, the discomfort that he lived with at this time. Of course, he returns to the palace with a new appreciation for the journey travelled and the current status he occupies.
Meditation practice can be this dramatic an upgrade. The problem can be that we normalise these benefits, unless we can find ways to compare before and after. If you have lapsed in your practice, I recommend remembering how life was before you learnt. Just as habits are built moment to moment, so to do we evolve our understanding, our health, our relationships. I wouldn’t recommend lots of nostalgia, but sometimes a quick insight (not necessarily as smelly as vomit!) gives us a deep understanding of how far we have come.