Two tasks

There is much evidence on several levels that there are at least two major tasks to human life. The first task is to build a strong “container” or identity; the second is to find the contents that the container was meant to hold. The first task we take for granted as the very purpose of life, which does not mean that we do it well. The second task is encountered more than sought; few arrive at it with much preplanning, purpose or passion. We are a”first-half-of-life-culture”,  largely concerned with surviving successfully. We all try to do what seems like the task that life first hands to us: establishing an identity, a home, relationships, a family, community, security and building a proper platform for our only life. But it takes us much longer to discover “the task within the task” as I like to call it: what we are really doing when we are doing what we are doing.

Richard Rohr, Falling Upward.

Comfortable in our own skin

The arrogant mind never stops searching for identity, and this identity always defines itself through attributes: “the beautiful one,” “the smart one,” “the creative one,” “the successful one.”   We can hold on to these labels on a “good” day.  But when we feel insecure about our attributes, or our lack thereof, we start to wonder how to define ourselves;  we wonder who it is we really are.  Regardless of whether we’re having a good day or a low-self-esteem day, the points is, we haven’t found a way to relax, to be natural, to be unself-conscious.   We don’t know how to take our seat in ordinariness and feel comfortable in our own skin. We are always searching for something to be.  It’s like having an ongoing identity crisis.

Dzigar KongtrulLight Comes Through

Staying steady

Emotional turmoil begins with an initial perception — a sight, sound, thought — which gives rise to a feeling of comfort or discomfort. This is the subtlest stage of getting hooked. Energetically there is a perceptible pull; it’s like wanting to scratch an itch. We don’t have to be advanced meditators to catch this.  This initial tug of “for” or “against” is the first place we can remain as steady as a log. Just experience the tug and relax into the restlessness of the energy, without fanning this ember with thoughts. If we stay present with the rawness of our direct experience, emotional energy can move through us without getting stuck. Of course, this isn’t easy and takes practice.

Pema Chodron

A different refrain for the week

We often ask, “What’s wrong?” Doing so we invite painful seeds of sorrow to come up and manifest. We feel suffering, anger and depression and produce more such seeds. We would be much happier if we tried to stay in touch with the healthy, joyful seeds inside of us and around us. We should learn to ask “What is not wrong?” and be in touch with that.

Thich Nhat Hahn, Peace is Every Step

A more spacious mind

Mindfulness practice help us become aware of the gaps and discontinuities that are always appearing spontaneously in the logic of our story lines. For instance even in in the midst of the most intense anger, we might begin to notice flashes of “Why am I so angry?” “Do I need to make such a big deal out of this?” “Is this really as important as I am making it?” Meditation allows us to notice how big mind is always available and flashing into awareness, even when we are most caught up in our stories. Although we often feel most alive when involved in  emotional dramas, mediatatio nhelp us realize our baisc ongoing aliveness that is always present in both dramatic and undramatic moments

John Welwood, Befriending Emotion