Finding the Pause
Sun-filled greetings from the east coast of the U.S. I'm writing this a couple days before press time and the weather is beautiful and highly unusual for this time of year. The forecast implies that temperatures will be dropping, especially as I head north toward the end of the week, which is pretty normal for February. What's unexpected is the lack of snow so far this winter. It's interesting watching us all deal in different ways with our expectations as they don't match up with our actual experience. Many of Buddha's teachings addressed the "wanting mind" and how "unfulfilled expectations can cause suffering". I have to chuckle as we find ourselves out of sorts even as we are happy to not be shoveling piles of cold, wet snow.
The philosophy of Siddhartha Gautama or Buddha has been a big part of my life even before I was introduced to his ideology specifically. It's not a religion for me and I don't believe he wanted it to be. There are many ideas upon which I place great importance and I appreciate any and all guidance in living a life that is for the good and benefit of many people. I have never felt comfortable being told what to do by another human (like myself), usually male, in a threatening manner. I respect beliefs that bring comfort and do no harm to others and I believe there are many paths in this life's journey. This is pretty revealing and a bit vulnerable - more than I've sometimes been in so many years of writing and sharing. I'm not looking for anyone to agree or disagree. I'm offering my perspective.
This week's Seed is based on what I've learned through mindfulness and meditation:
"We can always make a choice about how we respond, especially if we learn to pause and bypass reacting."
Tara Brach, an American psychologist and teacher of Insight Meditation, writes about the Sacred Pause. She's probably not the first person in history to coin the phrase, but she's the one most currently associated with it. I love the word "sacred", especially as defined to be deserving of veneration, respect, or adoration. Mindfulness and meditation has opened me up to seeing the "holiness" in what is often dismissed as mundane. While a blessing can certainly be "sacred", so can waking up to a sunrise, brushing one's teeth, walking on the grass, or driving to work. We can miss all that and almost anything else that happens in a day if we never stop and pause. So many of us live with a sense of "so much to do". I used to thrive (or, so I thought) on my "busyness". It made me think I was important if I kept piling things onto my "to do" list, even though I was crumbling under the weight of it. I had no sense of reverence for my life and I deeply hurt the people closest to me. Even though there has been a huge amount of pain for me to deal with, I'm glad that I finally slowed down and listened and allowed a new truth in. I remember feeling impatient with some of my early meditation teachers. They often took their time responding to questions. I would go on silent retreats and wonder how I was going to get through the day without reading, writing, talking, exercising to 150 beats per minute, "doing" -- and this was before smart phones! Little by little, I became aware of the "pause". This is what Tara writes about it:
"Through the sacred art of pausing, we develop the capacity to stop hiding, to stop running away from our experience. We begin to trust in our natural intelligence in our naturally wise heart, in our capacity to open to whatever arises. Like awakening from a dream, in the moment of pausing, our trance recedes and radical acceptance becomes possible." The verb "pause" means to interrupt action or speech briefly. Exactly! We can almost always benefit from an interruption of whatever our Ego feels is important. Ego doesn't think -- it reacts and usually with the best intentions. It runs on fear, both rational and irrational, and it will do its best to "protect". And, it doesn't always serve us well. However, inviting in the pause, let's us take that dedicated and hallowed moment and perhaps save ourselves from ourselves -- this is what I wish for you. What exactly is mindfulness and meditation (or, m&m as I flippantly call it)? Whether you already know or you want to know more, I'm offering a 5-day experience and it's free! Starting February 10, @7pm, I'm gifting you 20 minutes of a little m&m. We'll start on that Friday and have the last gathering on Valentine's Day -- because I love you. Be on the look-out for more information on how to sign up.
Sparkles and Love,