When depth comes through the broken bits

Growth can often involves a letting go of old ways, especially those that have ceased to serve. However, when we are in the midst of it, it can be hard to appreciate it in this way. We are more inclined to hold on to what is familiar and keep to what we know. However, sometimes the depth of new life can only be seen when the current one is broken open. It is true that there are occasions when we only grow when we pass through difficulties. With growth we move toward fuller healing and wholeness. It’s as if they had been waiting all along, until you made room for them to come into your life.

The world, I’ve come to think, is like the surface of a frozen lake.

We walk along, we slip, we try to keep our balance and not to fall.

One day, there’s a crack, and  so we learn that underneath us — is an unimaginable depth.

James Joyce, The Dead

Keeping a sense of wonder today

There is a basic notion that every soul has two ‘wings.’ These’ wings of the soul ‘ are Love and Awe.

When the soul is free, fresh and open, and available for inspiration, it flies on these two wings.

With one wing it is hard to fly; you must have two.

Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Wrapped In a Holy Flame: Teachings and Tales of the Hasidic Masters

Everything is coming or going

At any given moment, one part of our life is already gone and the other part of it has not yet happened. In fact, a great deal of our life is gone for good — everything up to this very point in time. If you are thirty, for example, that means that your first twenty-nine years are dead and gone already. They will not be any more or less dead and gone in the future, at the time of your physical death, than they are already. As to the rest of our life, it has not yet happened, and it may or may not ever happen. The boundaries of our life are not so clear cut. We do not actually live in either the past or the future, but in that undefined territory where past and future meet, on the boundary of what is gone and what is to come.  The past is at our back, just an instant behind us, nipping at our heels; and the future is totally questionable.  We are caught between those two throughout our life, from our first breath to our last. It is as if we were riding the crest of a wave in the middle of a vast ocean. What is immediately behind us is constantly disappearing as we ride the edge of the wave; and as we are propelled forward, we can neither turn back nor slow that wave’s powerful momentum.

The practice of mindfulness is a way to become more familiar with that undefined territory where past and future touch. Through meditation practice, gently, step by step, we learn to make friends with death as it arises in our immediate experience. We begin to reconnect with the immediacy of life and death here and now. Mindfulness practice starts very simply, with what is most close at hand, the breath. What is our experience of each breath, as if comes and goes? The breath is our most simple, and perhaps most profound, connection with life and death….. As a byproduct of the cultivation of mindfulness, we begin to notice similar boundaries and meeting points throughout our experience. We begin to take note of our thinking, for instance, as a process rather than just a collection of thoughts. Thoughts seem to arise out of nowhere: by the time we notice them, they are already there — we don’t know how they got there, they are just there blithering away. But as we settle down and look further, we begin to see that they come and go too, just like the breath.

In subtle and in more obvious ways, the experience of birth and death is continuous. All that we experience arises fresh, appears for a time, and then dissolves. What we are experiencing can be as subtle as the breath or the thinking process, or as dramatic as losing a job, getting a divorce, or losing our life. That arising and falling of experience is our life; it is what we have to work with.

Judy Lief, Riding the Crest of the Wave

Taking deliberate action

One of the problems of contemporary culture is that life moves at such a quick pace, we usually don’t give ourselves time to feel and listen deeply. You may have to take deliberate action to nurture the soul. If you want to increase your soul’s bank account, you may have to seek out the unfamiliar and do things that at first could feel uncomfortable. Give yourself time as you experiment. How will you know if you’re on the right track? I like Rumi’s counsel: ‘When you do something from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.

Elizabeth Lesser,  The Seeker’s Guide: Making Your Life A Spiritual Adventure

Change prepares for new growth

Cells die every day. Paradoxically that is how the body lives……Likewise ways of thinking die like cells, and we suffer greatly when we refuse to allow what is growing underneath make its way as the new skin of our lives. It is the stubbornness with which we refuse to let what’s growing underneath come through that pains us. It is the fear that nothing is growing underneath that feeds our despair. It is the moment that we cease growing in any direction that is truly deadly.Imagine if trees never shed their leaves, or if waves never turned over, or if clouds dumped their rain and disappeared.

I say this to remind myself as much as you: Little deaths prevent big deaths. What matters most is waiting its turn,  underneath all that is expending itself to prepare the way.

Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

Noticing small boredoms

https://i0.wp.com/www.ohiofur.net/marcon01/Waiting_for_Elevator.JPGAll of us experience small boredoms at work – routine, seemingly dull events that we often take for granted: remaining “on hold” on the phone, waiting at the copier or coffee line, pausing for a computer screen to open, being stopped in traffic. We may consider such moments irritating or unproductive, a waste of our time to be avoided if possible. However, properly handled, such small boredoms can ease the speed and restlessness of our jobs, helping us remain alert, available, and awake at work. What is so powerful about small boredoms in general is that we are actually trying to avoid our experience, to distract ourselves from the sharp immediacy of the moment.

Small boredoms – whether they are elevator rides, pauses in a speech, or sitting in a traffic jam – can feel vaguely unnerving. We are being poked by our world, provoked, invited to wake up. Acknowledging small boredoms encourages us to engage that slight discomfort by being alert and fully present with no mindless distractions. Rather than letting boredom, short or prolonged, put us to sleep, we reverse the equation, engaging boredom in all its simple, unadorned vividness, letting it wake us up. By relating to small boredoms with this kind of precision, we turn them into practice, stepping-stones we walk each day that form the basis for slowing our speed, letting go of our inner rehearsals, and being fully alert to our circumstances.

Michael Carroll