As most of us scurry ahead in our lives, the bottom lines that guide our lives and inform our choices are generally not so obvious. We may have set forth to accomplish a set of specific goals, yet have never taken it a step deeper to ask ourselves why we have chosen those particular goals.
Of course, how we Sit with that question is important. Although thinking about why we are doing what we are doing is certainly helpful, ultimately, it seems to me that our own bottom line is a matter of Heart. The truth of the matter and the heart of the matter are the same thing.
I think that is where Mindfulness Practice comes in. As we cultivate the ability to be present to our actual experience more completely rather than allow our thoughts to continually dominate the major part of our awareness, our perspective begins to shift. Directly experiencing our breath, our body, our thoughts, our feelings, our senses, the locus of "decision-making" expands beyond just what we think about things. It expands beyond just our conditioned emotional reactions, as well.
That's where it gets really interesting.
As it turns out, it wasn't all that simple. Some weeks I've sat here while writing a piece for the MMM Blog and pretty much just watched my fingers fly across the keyboard without a whole lot of effort. It hasn't been like that today. Today, I've flailed and struggled. I was never was able to get the train back on that particular track. Again and again, I took the word bother through a series of permutations only to shake my head and hit "delete". Effortless effort, indeed.
Then, at a certain point, Winnie the Pooh's classic "Oh, bother!" came to mind. (The gentleness and mildness of his expression of exasperation, I think, are signs of his advanced practice.) That led, for awhile, in the exploration of what the Tibetan Buddhists call shenpa. That seemed important.
It is, after all, our propensity to be bothered that is the root cause of suffering, right? We suffer because we cling to wanting to have it our way rather than just accept it the way it is.
Bingo. Don't bother--be happy! Done deal.
Then, just when I thought I was home free, I noticed immediately that the voice in my head had turned Pooh's exclamation into an imperative! No longer a simple expression of discomfort, it was now, for want of a better term, a freakin' moral command! I was "being told" (by myself, of course) to bother!
In my heart of hearts that resonated deeply with the truth of the matter for me.
For a long time now, it's been obvious that I'm one of those folks who chooses to bother. I choose to willingly open my heart to the suffering of the human condition--my own included--and try to "do" something about it. I'm grateful that there are other folks similarly smitten. It's obvious there is a lot of work to be done. It starts with ourselves and those around us in each moment.
What I've found, of course, is that if I'm too readily "bothered" it doesn't seem to help in most instances. If I approach the moment with a lot of pre-conceived notions and models about how it should be, if I'm unduly resistant to what is going on, I'm more likely to miss something, less likely to be helpful. I've got to care enough not to care. I've got to bother enough not to be bothered.
Tough job, but somebody's got to do it.
It takes Practice.
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