One day last year, my yoga teacher was making a point: if you can’t find your balance, or you can’t seem to get a pose right, don’t give up. Do it over again. “The 96 bus just keeps coming around,” she said, prompting us to be both persistent and dedicated to our practice.
Metro’s 96 runs along U Street NW in my neighborhood, and it was a fitting example given that the windows were open and the eardrum-splitting sound of a Metrobus rolling past our second-story studio every five to 10 minutes had become a fixture of our classes.
The point has never been lost on me because I’ve become more aware of the cycles that play out in my own life. Seasons. Paychecks. Birth-life-death among family and friends. The spring and fall seasons of television programming. And my practice of Buddhism.
No matter where in the cycle I might currently be, there would never be a point where I wouldn’t self-identify as a Buddhist. Yet, I see how there are times when I’m “high” — engaged in a daily practice of prayer and meditation; incredibly mindful of what I call the “opportunities to practice” (i.e., not going out for a couple drinks after work on a school night certainly gives me opportunities to practice when I get home and get ready for bed); generally all-around awareness of how attachment to a myriad of things affects my day-to-day life (and how stupid, useless and pointless that attachment can be, which helps immensely).
And then there are the “low” times when I feel like I all but abandon the activity-based parts of my practice, though mentally, I work at cultivating compassion and loving-kindness on a near-full-time basis.
With His Holiness’ visit to Washington last week, and an opportunity I had to have dinner last Friday night with Lama Zopa Rinpoche, the man who founded the network of churches I attend, and Khensur Rinpoche, the resident teacher at my church, I feel like I’m standing at the bus stop again, waiting for the 96 bus. (In other words, the cycle is starting to move upward again.)
Do I see the bus coming yet? Well, I’ll consider myself lucky to be able to do the work I need to see that bus in this lifetime. That is, of course, the best part of the analogy: the 96 bus goes round and round. If I don’t catch it this time, I can try next time around.
Of course, I can’t catch it at all if I’m not waiting at the bus stop. 😀