Step through again and again

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How do we work with this tendency to block and to freeze and to refuse to take another step toward the unknown? If our edge is like a huge stone wall with a door in it, how do we learn to open the door and step through it again and again, so that life becomes a process of growing up, becoming more and more fearless and flexible, more and more able to play like a raven in the wind?

The wilder the weather is, the more the ravens love it. They have the time of their lives in the winter, when the wind gets much stronger and there’s lots of ice and snow. They challenge the wind. They get up on the tops of the trees and hold on with their claws and then they grab on with their beaks as well. At some point they just let go into the wind and let it blow them away.  They have had to develop a zest for challenge and for life. 

Pema Chodron

photo Ingrid Taylar

“If only” this would change …

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People [have always] faced the same kinds of  issues we face now, but with different window dressing. In the time of the Buddha,  men and women were arguing, gossiping, judging others, losing their perspective, overreacting, sexualizing their experiences, chasing after greener pastures, obsessing about non-essentials, feeling lonely and creating too many pipe dreams….. Nothing has fundamentally altered.

How many of us  are still convinced, mature as we may be, that if our partner would only change, or if we could meet the perfect person, everything would be fine?  These are the dysfunctional myths and illusions that drive our lives in very dissatisfying directions.  How many people remember the song from the musical Fiddler on the Roof – “If I were a Rich Man…” 

What is your “big if”?  The big “if” that leads you away from wisdom and reality?

Lama Surya Das,  Awakening the Buddha within

This is the way it is

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Advice from two great teachers from the Thai tradition, where I find myself mainly at home.

Ajahn Sumedho has had a huge influence on the development of meditation practice in the West. Here he refers to an observation made by one of the great figures in Thai Theravada Buddhist practice, summarizing neatly the whole of mindfulness practice. Its an observation which is one of my favourites and points us towards the right attitude.

That being said, it’s not so easy to work with when circumstances are challenging, or, you know, those evenings when the heart just feels a bit lost.

Buddhadasa Bhikkhu said, “If there was to be a useful inscription to put on a medallion around your neck it would be ‘This is the way it is’.”

This reflection helps us to contemplate: wherever we happen to be, whatever time and place, good or bad, ‘This is the way it is.’

It is a way of bringing an acceptance into our minds,

a noting rather than a reaction.

Ajahn Sumedho, The Way it is

Cheerfulness

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A post for the made-up “Blue Monday”, the day in the year,  they tell us,  we are most likely to feel gloomy.

Perhaps the best advice for our physical and mental health this week, as we bring our inner self to work with whatever outward situation we find ourselves in…. and not from a modern self-help book. 

A cheerful heart is good medicine

Proverbs 17:22

photo david shankbone