Be strong then, and enter into your own body; there you have a solid place for your feet.
Throw away all thoughts of imaginary things, and stand firm in that which you are
In the Christian liturgical tradition today is the last day of the year, with Advent starting this evening, marking the start of a New Year. It is as good a time as any other to make this change, and certainly less commercial and not as hyped than the 31st of December. One way or the other, there are themes in nature and in different cultures at this time of the year and as winter approaches – letting go, slowing down, taking stock, welcoming change, seeking more light in the dark corners of our hearts:
For last year’s words
belong to last year’s language
and next year’s words
await another voice.
And to make an end
is to make a beginning.
A short quote today from Andy Puddicombe, creator of the Headspace site, which does well in demystifying meditation and presenting it in a modern format. Some people have told me that they find their app a useful way of keeping their practice going, and in this modern age, technology can be sometimes helpful, even if its overall effect may be to fragment our capacity for attention. You may like to check it out here: http://www.getsomeheadspace.com/benefits-of-meditation.aspx
The journey to acceptance is about discovering what we need to let go of, rather than what we need to start doing. By noticing moments of resistance throughout the day, you can start to become more aware of what prevents acceptance from naturally arising. This in turn will allow you to view the thoughts and feelings that arise during your meditation with a much greater sense of ease.
Andy Puddicombe, Ten Tips for Living more Mindfully
Most of our dissatisfaction in life comes from a mind that acts in one of two ways. Either it pulls – wants some things that are going on in our lives (or in others’ lives) or it pushes away – it does not want elements of what is happening to us at the moment. This pushing or pulling - which is frequently linked to us comparing ourselves with real or imagined others - makes it very difficult for us to enjoy the present moment. As I once heard meditation teacher Larry Rosenberg say, we live in “what actually is” but we insist on thinking ourselves into “what is not”:
You [have] a hidden demand that life be other than it is, and then you suffer and cause others to suffer. The present moment isn’t acceptable because you aren’t getting what you want, or you are not who you want to be, or there is something you want to get rid of. Even if it is a pleasant moment, you worry about the future and wanting to have still more pleasant moments, so you are still being defined by attachment. You are not willing to accept what the future may be, so you suffer in this moment over what is really only a concept. But the future is not here now. It may turn out the way you want it to, or you may change your mind about what you want. What you believe may be awful if it happens may turn out to not be so bad or to lead to some unanticipated good alternative.
Phillip Moffitt, Dancing with Life
Another quote from Irish poet W.B. Yeats today. I was just watching the news reports from the Philippines and seeing the scale of the destruction and death caused by Typhoon Haiyan. This along with some other events recently make me more aware of the fundamental fact which comes into focus when we do our meditation practices, namely that things change, moment by moment, day by day, in ways that we are not able to predict. We try to keep our sense of balance on the present moment. Everything else is uncertain.
All things hang like a drop of dew
Upon a blade of grass
W.B. Yeats, Gratitude to the Unknown Instructors
The enlightened mind is a mind that is always contemplating impermanence.
Suzuki Shõsan Rõshi