Duck vs. Rabbit

I’ve been very lucky. I don’t always get what I want…and this is liberating. It teaches me to examine my relationship to loss and gain and what I perceive as good or bad. I realize there are many ways to view a situation. The drawing above is an example of an optical illusion. Look at it one way and there is a bunny. Look at it another way and there is a duck. Shifting attention my perspective expands and I can see both.

When I was very ill I needed to see and feel more than my illness. A broad perspective allowed me to open to more than my illness. I’d look out the window, appreciate a smile and remember to acknowledge that I was not my illness.

Acceptance is a process. Sometimes I have to dig deep down and be willing to take in new information to make peace with my situation and observe its “truth”. There is ease within dis-ease, life and death. Meditation is about dis-illusion, seeing clearly and understanding the true essence of a moment and the conditioning which affects our perception of it. To do this we must see more than one thing and be able to hold diverse views. I ask myself, what’s important and where is my focus NOW? What is the effect of a thought or action? Does it lead to a sense of well-being or not? How open am I to change? How do I meet sorrow and loss, joy and happiness?

Often we think we are what we feel and it will never change. I began meditating in the early 80’s because I wanted to be happier. Back then I’d drive Larry Rosenberg, my meditation teacher, to Worcester once a week. He was teaching an MBSR class for the fledgling Stress Reduction Program and I was working down the road at a job I didn’t like. I’d complain, Larry would listen, smile and sing,

“You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes
you just might find
You get what you need.”
– The Rolling Stones

I did not like hearing this but it woke me up. It challenged me to examine how I perceived the world and where I placed my attention. Mindfulness brought me into the present moment and interrupted the “story” of what I thought I needed to be happy. I began shedding past conditioning and investigating the relationship between my thoughts, feelings and sensations and how they related to my sense of well-being.

Over the years I’ve learned that happiness floats. It is not dependent on any one thing but has many aspects. There are ducks and rabbits, your view and mine, feelings of happiness and sadness. Everything changes. The challenge is to acknowledge it all and realize we have what we need—it’s here now!