If your life is feeling a little like you’re forcing shit up hill right now (and I think some of us have so far this year), you might like to reflect on this: Sukshma.
In Sanskrit it means “subtle”. Actually, it means more than that…it’s to touch life “innocently, faintly and effortlessly”. It softens. It allows compassion.
Like when a child touches your arm when they come out at night to tell you they can’t sleep.
I was taught this term when I first learned to meditate. Sometimes, when you meditate, you can go at it aggressively, forcing yourself (with internal berating) back to your mantra or third eye or candle flame or whatever when your mind wanders. And you get grumpy with yourself for “not doing it right” and not being able to stay focused. But this is highly unuseful in meditation. It kinda ruins the vibe.
My teacher taught me to try instead to return to focus with sukshma. Sukshma is a gentle steering, like we’re merely turning our head gently from the action over there to the left of us, back to centre. Gently and kindly.With no expectation of outcome. It’s feather light.
Lately I’ve been applying sukshma beyond meditation. And this, of course, is the point of meditation – to take the consciousness you foster in meditation out into the world. Who wants to stay in the cave on the bloody mountain, I ask you?! (Indeed, I asked the Dalai Lama the same and he agreed as much.)
I tend to internally berate and bludgeon myself with all kinds of silent but violent verbal abuse. It’s pretty non-stop. You’re either a carrot or a stick person. I’m a stick person. It’s got me places with my career. But at a cost. Part of that cost is a friction.
I’m always banging my little square self into round holes. The friction hurts.
I’m over the grating and so I’m trying sukshma.
You can’t try to be innocent, faint and effortless. You just be it. No questioning, no right or wrong way. And no run-up either. You just slip into it. Which is something we’re not used to doing. We tend to force things (so many of us are stick folk on this blog!). We do things. Simply choosing to be a vibe now and forever, it’s weird. Isn’t there a set of instructions we’re missing? Do we deserve this?
Yeah, you do. So shut up and just be it.
Every day I sit down to meditate for twenty minutes. I just do it. And I just be sukshma. Every day, twice a day.
This innocent, faint and effortless beingness is what is now oozing over into the rest of my life. Little by little I can feel I’m building an effortless muscle. I can see it in the way I recover from hurt when a guy doesn’t call or when an idea I’m excited about doesn’t come through. And in the way I now just sit in grid-locked traffic and calmly breathe into the steering wheel and focus on the sun that’s warming the tops of my hands.
I don’t need to go further. Enlightenment and detachment from ego are all very well. But I’m cool with sukshma. Give me sukshma and I’m complete enough for this life time, thank you very much.
I find it a Nice Thing To Do to just to reflect on what “innocent, faint, effortless” feels like. For me, it’s like the rigid boundaries of my body release, like I’m undoing a corset, or the button on tight jeans, and my insides are able to gently expand and my cells can stretch out languidly into the space created.
My teeth relax in their sockets. My fingernails soften in their nail beds. My eyelashes soften. And I feel majestic and suspended in a doona-like cloud. What about you?