Mindfulness - Bursting your Balloons
28th March 2019
Bursting Your Balloons
By Suryacitta from his forthcoming book for mindfulness teachers.
A few years ago, I was at a birthday party and noticed that one of the entertainers was blowing up balloons. He would let the children burst the balloon, then instantly he would blow up another. Again they would burst the balloon, and again he would blow up another. The children enjoyed bursting the man’s balloons. Each time they did this he would pretend to be disappointed and surprised. But even though he had lots of experience and it was his job to entertain the children, I am sure it was tiring forever blowing up balloons.
This image came to me, as they often do, years later during a silent retreat. We are just like the entertainer at the party; most of the day we are blowing up our balloons. Our balloons are full of expectations and demands of our own, and those of other people, situations and life. We blow up our balloons with demands such as everybody should like me, or people should be like I want them to be. Other demands can be: life needs to go my way, I need to be right, I need to be noticed or not noticed. The list is endless.
Life keeps bursting our balloons, the moment we wake up in the morning we begin blowing, the moment life goes against us it bursts - people will not always be nice, you cannot always be right, you will get ill and you will be criticised. But rather than learning from the disappointment, we instantly blow up another balloon full of tired old expectations and demands. All day long, bursting and blowing, bursting and blowing - it is exhausting. Life is meant to burst our balloon, it will always attempt to bring us back to reality – no balloon.
Or at least if we have expectations we can hold them lightly. It is good to know what demands you are blowing into your balloons. To paraphrase Charlotte Joko Beck, disappointment and deflation can be a wonderful teacher.
Having no balloon or holding it lightly means living a life of joy and ease. We meet life as it comes, the pleasant and the unpleasant. As I sit here with uncertainty about my own health I can feel the desire to blow up another balloon, and sometimes I do. It will be ok, I catch myself thinking, they will find out what is wrong and fix it. They may do and of course I will do all I can to find what is going on and be well. But life is here to burst my balloon, to keep me real, to keep you real, because my balloon, your balloon is going to be well and truly burst one day. The bursting of our balloon is the awakening of our hearts.
So instead of clinging to that balloon full of expectations, demands, wishes and dreams let it go, open your heart to real life and rest in the uncertainty of it, which is the only place where you will find joy and ease.
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