Slowing Down

The end of the year in the Christian Calendar. A different rhythm begins tomorrow with the start of Advent

In this world of speed and distraction, choosing to be less busy feels almost countercultural; slowing down, eccentric. Perhaps it is, for there’s no denying the expansive, time-bending effects of awareness. Sometimes, I do call it meditation: I sit cross-legged on a cushion in my yoga room; I set a timer and focus on my breath, bringing my attention to bear on the elusive, invisible third eye in the center of my brow point. These sittings are humbling: My mind sneaks away, I chase it down, lead it back, tie it again and again to my breath. Eventually, if I’m not in a rush to get on to the next thing, a small, silent space clears. I savor the taste of quiet, roll it around on my tongue, feel the day’s contours softening and opening around me.

Katrina Kenison, Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment

Moments in themselves

Psychologist Steve Taylor recalls watching tourists in the British Museum in London who weren’t really looking at the Rosetta Stone…on display in front of them , so much as preparing to look at it later, by recording images and videos on their phones. So intently were they focusing on using their time for a future benefit – for the ability to revisit or share the experience later on – that they were barely experiencing the exhibition itself at all. Of course, grumbling about young peoples smartphone habits is a favourite pastime of middle-aged curmudgeons like Taylor and me. But his deeper point is that we are all frequently guilty of something similar. We treat everything we’re doing – life itself in other words – as valuable only insofar as it lays the groundwork for something else.

from the always interesting Oliver Burkeman, Four Thousand Weeks: Time and How to LIve it

Like a little fish

There is a Hindu story about a little fish who went to the Queen of fishes to ask a question. She asked “I have heard of the Great Ocean; mighty and powerful, sustaining all who dwell therein, universally present, yet deep and fathomless. Where is this Great Ocean, and how do I find it?” The Queen replied, “The Great Ocean is everywhere, all around you, within and without. It is sustaining you even now. You exist within it and because of it, and need only accept yourself as you are to know it fully.”

We, like the little fish, exist within enlightenment all the time, unaware of its workings.

There is only one thing to do when we realize we cannot swallow the sea; relax, let go, and simply be one with it. How enjoyable that is! Our relationship to it changes, and it becomes much more personal.

Kyogen Carlson, 1982-2014, Zen Roots

Non-doing

The sage Chuang-Tzu was walking with a disciple on a hilltop. They see a crooked, ancient tree without a single straight branch. The disciple says the tree is useless, nothing from it can be used and Chuang-Tzu replies, “That’s the reason it’s ancient. Everyone seem to know how useful it is to be useful. No one seems to know how useful it is to be useless”

Joseph Goldstein, The Practice of Loving Kindness for all

Abundance and inner security

A Zen master would call the True Self “the face we had before we were born.”… It is who you are before having done anything right or anything wrong, who you are before having thought about who you are. Thinking creates the false self, the ego self, the insecure self. The God-given contemplative mind, on the other hand, recognizes the God Self, the Christ Self, the True Self of abundance and deep inner security. We start with mere seeing; we end up with recognizing. 

Richard Rohr