"Mindfulness Practice isn't just about escaping to some magical inner realm devoid of life's challenges. The Practice is about progressively opening your heart and calming your mind enough to engage Life directly, to be more fully Present in a kind, clear, and helpful way."

Your MMM Courtesy Wake Up Call! Musings on Life and Practice by a Long-time Student of Meditation.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Now What?

"We are already what we want to become."
-- Thich Nhat Hanh

"Life is the dancer.  You are the dance."
-- Eckhart Tolle


I didn't Sit this morning.  The heat apparently didn't come on last night as the temperatures dropped into the lower 30's and a stiff northwest wind was rattling the window alongside my bed as I came awake.

I got up, went to the bathroom.   Then, I strode back across the cold floor and immediately grabbed the heating pad and an extra blanket  -- and crawled back into bed. I hadn't planned on falling back to sleep. 

As I often do, as soon as I laid down, I placed my awareness on my body and breath, consciously stretching and relaxing a bit, noticing some thoughts and feelings spin through my awareness as well.  Predictably, the first burst of thoughts was a rather daunting "things to do list".  When I let those thoughts go and turned to the underlying feelings, I noticed a tightness in my chest and belly.

As I lay there, I could pretty easily define the that collection of thoughts and feelings as "me" being anxious, fearful, worried about not accomplishing all that I wanted to get done today. In the old days, that collection of thoughts and feelings often could consume my attention to the point of distraction and disarray.  In fact, a number of times in my life similar collections of mind-states contributed to a dramatic "burn-out."

As I lay there this morning, though, within a moment or two I was breathing the feelings into my heart with the wish that I could feel those feelings for all of us.  My heartfelt aspiration that all of us be at peace, free of such suffering, rode the release of the out breath.  I didn't have to choose to Practice at that moment.  More and more it has become a habitual response.

Floating on the breath of Tonglen Practice, embraced in the gracious spaciousness of Mindfulness and Awareness, the fear and stress quickly morphed into a pang of sadness.  Then sadness quickly dissolved into a feelings of gratitude, then a sense of wonder about Life and Practice. Then there was just breathing, the wind howling out the window.  Then a few dream bubbles danced into awareness and burst.  Then I fell asleep.

I awoke an hour or so later, warm, well rested -- and ready to dance. 

One of my favorite Zen stories comes at the end of Dogen's Genjokoan: Actualizing the Fundamental Point.   Here it is:
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 Zen master Baoche of Mt. Mayu was fanning himself. A monk approached and said, "Master, the nature of wind is permanent and there is no place it does not reach. Why, then, do you fan yourself?"

"Although you understand that the nature of the wind is permanent," Baoche replied, "you do not understand the meaning of its reaching everywhere."

"What is the meaning of its reaching everywhere?" asked the monk again. The master just kept fanning himself. 

The monk bowed deeply. 


Well, I'm certainly no Zen master.  Although I moved on to different forms a number of years ago, I'm still a devoted fan of Dogen's Master Baoche.   At this stage of the journey Practice seems inextricable from Life itself.   As I wander along, it's clear to me that I'm in it for the long haul, which at age 68, ain't as long as it used to be. Yet, this is, after all,  the only dance there is.  I intend to bop 'til I drop.  That's good enough for me. 

So, I'm off to Sit with the #OMG! (#Occupy Meditation Group!) at our Noon Peace Vigil on the Town Commons.  That'll keep me on the streets and in trouble.

How about you?

(The Wednesday Circle does not meet again until, Wednesday, May 7.  So there is another week to contemplate the "Four Reminders"of the First Point of the Lojong Teachings before we move on to Point Two with the second slogan.  See A Layman Looks at Lojong)
 

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