Don’t go outside your house to see the flowers.
My friend, don’t bother with that excursion.
Inside your body there are flowers.
One flower has a thousand petals.
That will do for a place to sit.
Sitting there you will have a glimpse of beauty
Inside the body and out of it,
Before gardens and after gardens.
I was immediately struck by the rich invitation from the 15th century Indian poet and saint to come to land in your own body, your own being. What a rich journey… Rather than letting the focus be on what’s happening in the mind by meditating ‘on top of’ the body, how is it to allow ourselves to really drop into the world of the body and find that flower with a ‘thousand petals’? ‘That will do for a place to sit’…
And I wonder, what allows for this journey to happen? What can inspire the trust to not ‘go outside your house to see the flowers’ but instead to stay in, even if it feels unfamiliar or a bit scary? Often, this is a gradual softening and trusting that deepens almost without noticing over time, and then you read something in your journal from a year ago and realise: “the relationship with my body has changed! I’m much more at home here now!” But sometimes it seems like we need to go through a bit of a narrow passage way to come out on the other side where we can see the ‘beauty inside the body and out of it’.
The most recent time this happened for me in a more eventful way, was during a retreat where I recognised that I wasn’t feeling all that was present in a part of my body. It felt empty, but not a spacious and soft kind of empty, but more like I was in a room with invisible stuff in it – I knew it was there but couldn’t feel it. I mentioned this in a chat with the teacher and felt reassured by his encouragement that it was probably more safe to go there than it seemed to me, and that it might be worth gently being with the invisibleness of what was there. I did, and was surprised by a flood of visceral memories related to a very painful experience in that part of the body, which passed through me and left again on the flow of melting tears.
And it’s interesting how since then, there’s been a new sweetness and safeness to resting there, which is a very inviting flower to sit on. And I’m not the only one with this kind of experience, over the years I’ve heard and read about many others. So maybe let Kabir invite you to ‘not bother with that excursion’ to see the external flowers, but instead turn inwards and find out what blooms there…