~ Pushed and Held
Pressure. Usually retreat is where we learn how to live at ease without the "pressures of daily life." But we also find pressure necessary.
In the youtube video on Open Dharma's home page, the first person interviewed reports, "I felt really pushed and really held." And this is a compliment. A compliment about two kinds of pressure, pushing and holding.
Slight pressure of diaphragm opening lungs, closing them. The pressure of the feet on the ground reminding us of support and interdependence. A gentle pressure on the shoulder to encourage. A firm pressure between the shoulder blades to release tension.
The pressure of tears or rage or insight finally bursting through.
A pressure building up in the psyche towards catharsis and resolution.
The pressure of change, loss or arrivals--signaled by confusion, disappointment, frustration, disillusionment--a pressure on our worldview to grow wider and wiser.
The pressure of a game or an audience bringing out focus and energy to play beyond the usual quality. Creativity pressing up from within to break through in fresh words, colors, movement. A leading pressure in the palm of the hand or the hip to dance or to turn the horse. Birth: pressure within pressure, tiny feet and stretched womb both pushing.
But also, the pressures we need to learn not to bend to. Perfectionist pressure that paralyzes. Peer pressure. Pressure to succeed, or conform, or perform--to pretend. Pressure to be who we are not; to do what we would not.
Sometimes life seems to offer support that we feel as a tender "being held." Sometimes life offers situations that seem to press us forward or back or up or down, or stretch us beyond what was possible; and we feel uplifted. Sometimes the pressure feels inhumane. We aren't up for it; we can't live with or without that person, thing, mind-state, situation...
Sometimes it is hard to know when to "stand up for ourselves" and "state our needs and boundaries," and when to "accept the things we cannot change."
Chogyam Trungpa expresses it this way in a chapter called "Compassion" inMahayana: "The intention is gentle, but the practice is very harsh." The intention to experience unconditional love and unwavering wisdom comes from a gentle place. But the practice of knowing that nothing is under our control can be harsh.
Transformation comes when we stay ruthlessly true to that impersonal, unstoppable gentleness.