"Mindfulness Practice isn't just about escaping to some magical inner realm devoid of life's challenges. The Practice is about calming your mind and opening your heart 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.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Sacred Space

"When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment,
our understanding of what is going on deepens, 
and we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace and love.”

― Thích Nhất Hạnh

“Delight in itself is the approach of sanity. Delight is to open our eyes 
to the reality of the situation rather than siding with this or that point of view.”
― Chögyam Trungpa, The Myth of Freedom and the Way of Meditation

When I was growing up, being called a "space cadet" was usually not a good thing.   Unless you were in the astronaut training program at NASA (or, perhaps, a Trekkie), being called a space cadet was a put-down.  It generally meant that you had a hard time staying in touch with what most people called"reality".  A space cadet tended to drift off somewhere quite often, not paying much attention to the seemingly endless concerns and hassles of the "real world". 

Although I didn't realize it at the time, it's obvious that these space cadets, marching to the beat of a different drummer, had a leg up on the rest of us.

Being conditioned in the rat race of the modern world, our legs were usually fully engaged spinning the hamster wheel in an invisible, but very captivating, mind cage that most people call "the real world."  Wrapped up in our thoughts about doing it right, going for the gold, being all we can be, etc., most of us were continually scrambling to get with the program.  The space cadet seemed not to take all that so seriously.  He or she would frequently step off the mainstream merry go round to see what else was happening, relaxing into an "inner realm" that apparently seemed much more interesting.

These days, I choose to do something like that most every day for at least an hour.  I've signed on for the voyage and would gladly accept the title of space cadet.   I've found that "inner space" is the final frontier.  Some folks call what I do meditation.

Spending time examining the nature of mind and exploring what had previously been subconscious, I've seen directly that there is a whole lot more to reality than meets the eye -- or at least the two eyes we generally have been trained to use in the conventional way.  ( I won't get into a discussion of third eyes, supernatural vision, and Visions here, but...)
As Practice deepened, it became quite clear that there is a whole lot more space than there is solidity in the nature of things.  In fact, even what appears to be quite solid, when looked into deeply, isn't.  Perceived directly, what we conventionally call "things" aren't.   They are localized intersections of an infinite array of energies. With Practice, they appear in radical clarity as momentary events flowing within the embrace of limitless space.  

At this stage of the journey, I find that being a space cadet, moment to moment, is quite delightful and refreshing.  In fact, it's not only delightful and refreshing, it changes everything!  Most importantly, I've found that staying in touch with this Gracious Spaciousness, the awesome task of loving your neighbor as yourself becomes increasingly doable!

With Practice, the quality of consciousness cultivated on the zafu persists over time, embracing the activities of daily life, more and more.  When this sense of spaciousness is readily available, all sorts of things shift.  Thoughts and feelings that used to dominate my awareness and send me spinning into countless hours of stressful angst at best, or an arsenal of painful and counterproductive behaviors at worst, rarely do these days.  Most of the time, I can pretty much relax, keep my eyes, ears, and heart relatively open, and do what needs to be done (or not done) from moment to moment with as much skill and grace as I can muster. 

With Practice, mind states that used to attach themselves to the solidity of a "me" being right or being wrong are usually seen for what they are: ephemeral and fleeting clouds floating in the expanse of a clear, endless sky.  As a result, the blame and self-blame that had so often arisen in the past usually don't seem to form.  Even if they do, they too are experienced as fleeting thoughts and feelings that quickly dissipate if I don't allow them to dominate my attention.  These days, what could have become angry arguments or hours of debilitating self-talk can't get any traction.  

No longer prone to rocking my own boat, navigating my relationships has become easier.  When it becomes obvious that even my best efforts haven't dispelled seemingly stormy seas, there is generally enough ambient spaciousness to see and accept that more readily.  I can usually take a deep breath or two, trim my sails, explore a different tack if it occurs to me --  or, if necessary, just turn around and sail away with the wind at my back.  It's often just that simple.

And, it even gets better.

In the cool clarity of this Gracious Spaciousness, I've come to know that there is also warmth.  As the Heart opens to the clear sky of Mindfulness Awareness Practice, we see that the sun is always shining.  During the day, as clouds form, float, and disappear, the sun's always got their back.  

At night, the sun shines on as well.  Even though the earth gets in the way, the sun's proxies, the moon and myriad star siblings, are still there and they've got things covered.  The One Love is omnipresent.  

But, don't take my word for it.  See for yourself.  It just takes Practice.


Amarieus said...

"These days, what could have become angry arguments or hours of debilitating self-talk can't get any traction." I love this line! So true...all of it. I was definitely referred to as a space cadet growing up...thankful they never managed to shame it out of me! Here's to Inner Space....the final frontier and to us brave "pioneers" in inner space travel!

Thank you for your thoughts and thoughtfulness Lance!

Maya Apfelbaum said...

Thanks from me as well. That's all I want to say right now but your words were reassuring and hit the (soft) spot I needed.
Maya, the illusion of the illusion or the creatrix!

Don Karp said...

Hi L--How can I know that my sitting affects other parts of my life, and how long does it take to achieve this? I enjoy sitting, and also the rest of my life, but don't yet see how or if they are related. Thanks!
--Don Karp