We just entered our first 6-week practice period here at Sweeping Heart Zen. Before we started the period, people who formally entered this time of invigorated practice submitted what’s called a Practice Period Intention Form. One questions on the form asks, “What theme or issue do you intend to focus on during this Practice Period?” I intend to deeply rest and relax in awareness.
In my last post I wrote that you, and I, and the earth that sustains us are so incredibly improbable as to be next to impossible. Furthermore, I wrote that what’s next to impossible is a miracle. Therefore I concluded, we and the earth are miracles. A reasonable corollary follows from this conclusion, my miraculous friend. It’s that since you are a miracle, even before you fix breakfast, everything you do is an extremely rare and wondrous event in the universe. You and everything about you is a wonder, a one of a kind thing. So, don’t hesitate to feel good about paying attention to what you do. When walking, just walk. When eating, relax, savor, just eat. Continue reading Perform a Miracle! When Walking, Just Walk
Surely planet Earth is a miracle. The Earth and it’s place in the universe still seems like a miracle despite centuries of scientific probing, conjecture and theory. Don’t worry, since I have little training in science, I don’t aim to get deeply scientific in this post. What I will do is use some jaw-dropping conclusions from science to remind us that you and I are miracles. Furthermore, I want to encourage you to remember to rest in the miracle you are.
I walk to the Gloucester Unitarian Church 5-days a week to lead morning meditation. Last Tuesday, I got a late start, so anxiety quickened my pace. With my rushed steps, I added tension and stress to the walk. Of course, I made it to meditation on time, but I also decided to set out ten-minutes earlier for my walks. These extra ten-minutes give a boost to the quality of my day. No more rushing, a bit more relaxing. Part of the deep healing I need to do in my life involves noticing and letting go whenever I slip back into habit-stress and habit-struggle. The extra minutes give me time to walk slowly, to rest and relax, to let go along my way.
When the men I volunteer with at the Essex County Corrections Facility begin meditation practice, many find it hard to relax. And many talk about having racing or oppressive thoughts that make it “impossible” to meditate. Yet, in a matter of weeks, those students who consistently apply the meditation instructions report a greater sense of peace and wellbeing. These students make fairly rapid gains because they use meditation throughout the day with the right effort, and with the right attitude.
Wherever I can let go, I let go. Where I can forgive, I forgive. Where I can loosen my grip on the way I want things to be, I loosen up. I let go. Where I can be gentle, I’m gentle. Where I can relax, I relax.
The very best teaching my first Zen teacher gave me was: No matter what is happening and, no matter if it’s happening “on the inside” or “on the outside”, first and foremost, be aware of what’s happening and do your best to relax. Fear might be happening, be aware of fear and relax. If joy is happening, know joy and relax. If a flat tire is happening, be aware of that and relax. Another way to say this is: be aware of what’s happening, notice, and let go of any drama. Simply work with what’s happening as calmly as possible.