Wednesday, August 30, 2006

What is Life Offering You?

What is life offering you right now? Practice isn't just seated meditation. Life is practice. So I ask again, what is life offering you right now?

Life offers me struggle right now. This work week has strained my ability to cope. I have put in long hours, long, busy hours with more multitasking required than I am capable of. My saving grace has been my vacation over last weekend that left me mentally refreshed and rejuvenated. Just as there was a lesson I drew from my vacation, there is a lesson in this stress. Life is practice.

It's difficult to coax the lesson out from under the blanket of stress when I'm still lying on top of the blanket. So if I'm not ready for that yet, what is my practice? It is maintaining calm, slowing my breathing, remembering to release the tension in my shoulders. It is being with the stress, embracing it, rather than pushing it away.
I often notice that when people get up from the table on the patio, they don't push their chair back in. They have no commitment to that chair. They feel, "The chair isn't important, I have to get into the zendo and hear about the truth." But the truth is the chair. It's where we are right now. ... We're looking for the truth instead of being the unease and distress of where we are right now. [1]

The lesson arises of its own accord in the course of my practice. And if it doesn't? I practice.

1-Minute Contemplation: What is your life presenting right now? Are you chasing after something you don't have and forgetting to look directly at where you are right now? Are you pushing away what's in your life right now rather than embracing it, getting to know it? Now forget all this talk and just practice. Rising. Falling. I breathe in, my abdomen rises. I breathe out, my abdomen falls.

[1] Everyday Zen, Charlotte Joko Beck. 1989.


Sojourner said...

Life is presenting me with the fact that I walked around the MN State Fair and didn't drink enough liquids. And what am I doing about it?

Still not drinking enough liquids.

Off to go get some water.... :)

Mike said...

Hi Sojourner - that is Zen in a nutshell. When thirsty, drink. When hungry, eat. When drinking, only drink. When eating, only eat.

Cecilia said...

...and when packing, only pack!

Life is presenting me so many big boxes lately. I'm filling it with my past. Now I'm reminded to embrace it, lengthening its strides to make it into the present, towards meeting what is to be.

Don Iannone said... well said. Life is practice indeed. Thanks.

Mike said...

Best of Luck on your move, Cecilia!!