Over the past few months I’ve met so many of you in Europe, London, and the U.S., – so many incredible heart/minds gathering to learn, practice and step into seeing things as they are, discover deeper meaning, unplug the phone, turn towards rather than against – all with a beautiful willingness and courage to sit with and actually be with whatever is arising. Thank you for joining me, thank you for caring to.
Since it’s summer I’d like to stay a little ‘light’ so I thought I would share a question or comment that has come up over the past months several times and see if it resonates or might be something you can play around with in your heart, mind and body – gently and ‘lightly’.
I’ve been asked about advanced practices, especially as they might be embodied, or can be focused somatically, in the body. This question of what is advanced is interesting on many levels and especially with regards towards what many of us believe – that to be advanced means to do something more complex and complicated.
As I have come to understand practice over the 30 plus years of exploration and inquiry is that the more simple and unadorned the practice the more difficult it might be to actually do it.
It’s not easy to let go, allow, be with, sit in, notice or turn towards or away by choice. These words and gracious instructions point towards having and or developing a restful and at ease mind. Not one that is hardened against thoughts, or trying to stop the mind from thinking (it won’t).
It takes repeated practice to rest the mind, and provide the mind with an at ease body too – one that is not rigid or contracted, relaxed yet stable and upright, soft yet not falling apart. Much easier said than realized, or felt or embodied. The words and phrases that can glide or guide us into or towards an experience but are really the finger pointing at the moon – it’s the finger, not the moon.
It’s easy and often fun to talk about practice, discuss it, analyze it, think about it, promise to do it tomorrow or more regularly, but do we? Maybe, and sometimes not. This isn’t cause for critical appraisal, but it is an opportunity to start where we are and do something as simple, elegant and yet as challenging to remember to do what we have been guided towards, reminded about.
For instance, can you notice how your body is responding as you are reading these words. What are the sensations arising as you are reading? Can you find your breath and maintain awareness of it while reading, or even walking or watching the news?
Feeling the feet touching the earth can be a life long practice and one I never tire of and challenges me to stay awake and notice where I am at any given time. You can notice the space between your thoughts not just the thoughts themselves, and maybe even relax in that space between, or listen to what fills the silence of the night sky, or the feeling of a breeze on your skin, really taste a piece of watermelon, linger in the sensations of receiving or giving a kiss in the warmth of the sun.
Some of the greatest teachings I’ve ever received have been from the fortunate opportunities I’ve had to hang around with the most incredible Lama’s and Rinpoche’s, Nuns, Bhante’s and Ajahn’s and just laugh and be lovingly laughed with. I’ve been metaphorically held with such sweet lightness it began to rub off on me, slowly…slowly.
So, it’s summer – what we’ve waited for all winter – enjoy the light lasting a little longer, the nights warmer, and allow yourself be lighter, freer and more easy. This could be one of the most advanced practices you’ll try and at the very least will train your heart, mind, body to stay awake with more gentility and ease of being. This spaciousness and lightness of being could bring you some great joy if you allow it to.
If I can guide you, support you, talk to you about your practice, the integration of it into your life or profession please reach out.