Relating to all

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One of the most toxic new-age ideas is that we should “keep a positive attitude.” What a crazy, crazy idea that is. It is much healthier, much more healing, to allow yourself to feel whatever is coming up in you, and allow yourself to work with that anxiety, depression, grief. Because, underneath that, if you allow those feelings to come up and express themselves, then you can find the truly positive way of living in relationship to those feelings. That’s such an important thing…..It’s not  about some “spiritual experience” of being high all the time. Not at all. It is about living with the ongoing stresses and strains and difficulties – and joys –  of life, but doing so in a way that we feel whole. Living in relationship with the struggles of life is what makes us human.

Michael Lerner, The Difference between Healing and Curing

photo andrea westmorland

Where to hold on

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It seems to me that one of the key features of mindfulness is that it’s about bearing something in mind. You don’t exactly do letting go: What occurs – through carefully holding and moderating attention around a specific theme – is that the stuff that the mind projects is deprived of a foothold. So it lets go of its pre-occupations. To me, appropriate meditation practice is about aligning one’s attention to a specific object (breathing, body, mental image) and out of the store of moods, phobias and desires that the mind holds in its archives.

Ajahn Sucitto, The Low Point

Photo Arches National Park

Not running away from the dark

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It is hard to feel afraid without thinking something is going wrong. We readily react by judging ourselves and others, in an attempt to escape the pain of fear. It doesn’t work – neither does running off into the wilds. Even sacred places are deemed to fail us if we are motivated by a wish to escape. Can we experience the fear sensation without ‘becoming’ afraid?  Fear is still fear but it is perceived from an expanded, less cramped and less threatened awareness. We can even begin to see that fear too is ‘just so’. A non-judgemental, whole body-mind acknowledgement of the condition of fear, here and now, can transform our pain into freedom. Willingness to meet ourselves where we find ourselves is the way.

Ajahn Munindo, Dhammapada Reflections

photo russavia

Trust in darkness

 

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No seed ever sees the flower.

Zen saying

As I said yesterday, November marks the beginning of the “darker half” of the year in the Celtic Calendar, as the balance between light and darkness in the day continues to shift. The earth becomes colder and nature more dormant,  with a different rhythm from one of growth and maturity. Parallel process can occur in our lives. For example, difficulties occur which can seem dark or unclear and without hope, or we can have parts of our lives that seem dormant.  However, darkness in nature, and in our lives, does not mean that nothing is happening.  Things that are now hidden or buried will eventually become seen. That what is now unconscious will become conscious in time. At times,  all we can do is wait and trust.

photo by friedrich bohringer

Sheltered

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Wherever we are, whatever we do, all we need to do is recognize our thoughts, feelings, perceptions as something natural. Neither rejecting or accepting, we simply acknowledge the experience and let it pass. If we keep this up, we’ll eventually find ourselves becoming able to manage situations we once found painful, scary or sad. We’ll discover a sense of confidence that isn’t rooted in arrogance or pride. We’ll realize that we are always sheltered, always safe and always home.

Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, The Joy of Living

photo richard hoare