A poem at the start of a new week. We are continually presented with opportunities to start over again.
Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.
This opening to the life
we have refused
again and again
David Whyte, Where Many Rivers Meet
A repost quote from this time last year, reminding us that the mind creates a lot of the dramas in our lives, often making them more frightening than they actually are. These dramas can be about the big and little matters of this day – the days getting darker and winter approaching, the traffic heavier, the relentless nature of work, a difficult meeting…the possibilities are endless. Recognizing that the feelings that these events provoke are simply “mind energies” helps us to work with them and not to give them as much substance as we normally would.
We create big problems for ourselves by not recognizing mind energies when they arrive dressed up as ghosts. They are like the neighbor’s children disguised as Halloween ghosts. When we open the door and find the child next door dressed in a sheet, even though it looks like a ghost, we remember it is simply the child next door. And when I remember the dramas of my life are the energies of the mind dressed up in the sheet of a story, I manage them more gracefully.
One response to the increasingly frantic and plugged-in character of today’s world can be seen in an initiative entitled “The Sabbath Manifesto”. This manifesto was developed by a small group of artists, writers, filmmakers and media professionals who began to feel the need to respond to an increasingly fast-paced way of living. The idea developed to set aside one day of the week – based on the ancient notion of Sabbath – to unwind, unplug, relax, reflect, get outdoors, and spend time with loved ones. They created Ten core Principles to guide their efforts on those days, principles such as “Find Silence“, “Avoid Commerce“, “Get Outside”, “Connect with Loved Ones” and “Avoid Technology“. Their efforts to promote reflection on taking periodic vacations from the technology jungle have met with some media interest, and they promote a “National Day of Unplugging” , the next one taking place on March 23-24, 2012. They are not beyond using technology to help them, recommending an app to help people take a “digital detox”. Their site is an encouragement to all to reflect on the role which technology is playing in their lives.
That such a reflection is necessary can be seen in anecdotal reports from some therapists about couples who are so busy that they communicate almost entirely through text, email and phone messages and of families where each member may be in the same room but everyone is on a separate screen, be it a laptop checking mail, or computer gaming, or texting or watching tv. Another increasing phenomenon is that of checking more than one screen at a time, such as checking email or texting while watching television or a movie. Further evidence of technology’s effect can be seen in ongoing research on the brain, which I will look at in the next post.
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.
Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.
Pablo Neruda, Keeping Quiet
Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth that around every circle another can be drawn;
that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning,
and under every deep a lower deep opens
Ralph Waldo Emerson
How we stay in the middle between indulging and repressing is by acknowledging whatever arises without judgment, letting the thoughts simply dissolve, and then going back to the openness of this very moment. That’s what we’re actually doing in meditation. Up come all these thoughts, but rather than squelch them or obsess with them, we acknowledge them and let them go. Then we come back to just being here.
After a while, that’s how we relate with hope and fear in our daily lives. Out of nowhere, we stop struggling and relax. We see our story line, drop it, and come back to the freshness of the present moment.
Pema Chodron, Comfortable with Uncertainty