Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Like An Egg

Artwork by Milé Murtanovski

A few years ago I made a long and tiring journey across Australia to be with a close friend who comes from Africa. At the time, he was a refugee in a detention centre on the other side of Australia and couldn't come to visit me. 

After I’d arrived he told me, ‘Your sister rang to say you’d be really tired when you got here. I think she wanted to make sure I would look after you, so I told her not to worry, that I would treat you like an egg.’

‘An egg?’ I said, surprised. 

‘Yes, of course. I will treat you carefully, as though I was holding an egg.’

My friend was born in the Congo, and the idea of treating someone ‘like an egg’ was one that came from his culture. It’s a beautiful image. Imagine cradling a vulnerable egg in your hands, neither squeezing too tightly nor holding too loosely.

The image came to mind today as I was watching feelings rise and dissipate during meditation.  I found that it helped to imagine my hands holding my feelings with the careful attention I would bring to holding an egg. I saw the ‘egg’ being placed into my hands – anger, sadness, peacefulness – and felt my hands around them, not strangling them with a desire to change or cling to them, but not letting them go in aversion or disgust either.  

When the feelings started fading, I would carefully place the egg down, letting it go. Then, the next egg would be placed into my hands, with every egg wanting the same thing – attentive, gentle, care.

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