The way I remember it, she was advising new meditators to picture ourselves as a mountain--solid, big, imperturbable.
I took this picture on a hike a week ago. On one side of the mountain, a whole valley was under low cloud. The other side was completely sunny. I was about a mile high--high enough to see that even above the cloudy side, the sky was a brilliant blue (though the folks in Waynesville were still having a gray day).
What often perturbs us are our strong feelings and insistent, sticky thoughts.
And here's the thing--the reason we're perturbed is because we're identifying with these thoughts and feelings, wrapped up in them. We're feeling somehow defined, named, circumscribed, fogged in.
But a lot happens on a mountain.
Clouds on one side, sun on another. Icicles growing long at a creek's headwaters, the same creek flowing freely a couple of miles down.
A lot happens on a mountain. A lot happens in us. Practicing spaciousness invites us to see beyond the in-your-face perspective of strong feelings and sticky thoughts. Not to ignore or repress sticky thoughts and feelings, just to hold them in a roomier way.
When we don't identify with these thoughts and feelings, when we can see them for what they are and what they're not, then there's somebody home to hear their messages.
"Meet them at the door, laughing," says Rumi. "Invite them in. Each has been sent as a guide from beyond."
When we regularly meditate with this in mind, even for a few minutes a day, we discover we have more capacity to hold stuff, to keep tricky thoughts and feelings in perspective than we've realized. We begin to learn that becoming familiar with the things that make us small is part of a natural process of becoming bigger.