Monday, May 27, 2013

Three Step Practice

"First, come into the present. Flash on what’s happening with you right now. Be fully aware of your body, its energetic quality. Be aware of your thoughts and emotions. 

Next, feel your heart, literally placing your hand on your chest if you find that helpful. This is a way of accepting yourself just as you are in that moment, a way of saying, 'This is my experience right now, and it’s okay.

Then go into the next moment without any agenda”

Pema Chodron (Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change).

Lately we have been discussing how a sense of gratitude emerges spontaneously when we can notice and let go of thoughts that appear to keep us safe. What does it mean to be fully present with ourselves anyway?

If we practice the attitude of kindness that Pema describes above, we reduce the need to feel defensive by making excuses for our thoughts and behaviour. When we treat ourselves as we would like to be treated, we become aware of how often we treat ourselves harshly. This is what Jesus meant when he advised us to “Love thy neighbor as thyself”. We see ourselves and everyone else as Divine beings trying to awaken to love. Gratitude and compassion emerge spontaneously from this awareness.

When we are willing to becoming more aware of how we create our reality we become dilligent about listening to our inner chatter. We can experience moving through discomfort with grace. We realize that its really up to us how much we create our own suffering when our endless judgments and criticisms try to steal the show. Its probably our resistance or attachment to outcomes that really twists the knife.

Life can be challenging enough without listening to the ‘Peanut Gallery’ that drones on endlessly within our mind. Buddha describes the root of all suffering as ignorance. When he says this, he seems to be speaking to our need to pay attention to the chatter of our ‘monkey-mind’ that keeps us ignorant.

Instead we can choose again. Its never too late to stop and pay attention to our own limitless Presence. When do we make this leap? For us its emerged from our sense of being fed up with the story that never ends. We want a new direction that emerges from our own Divine Authority, not the endless list of rules that the world sets out for us, while claiming to keep us safe.

Join us and choose compassion for yourself. Its never too late and we never run out of opportunities to practice.   
Then go into the next moment without any agenda.
(From Pema's book Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Stop the madness!

More than those who hate you, more than all your enemies, an undisciplined mind does greater harm”.


From our practices at Light Tree, one thing appears abundantly clear. The ego-mind with all its incessant chatter is completely insane. If we do not practice sitting back and joining with the peace of our True Nature on a regular basis we run the risk of letting ego run the show.

Sometimes it seems that the ego has no purpose but the maintenance of the status quo. It likes things just as they are. Then, suddenly, self doubt takes a new twist and what seems like a good plan becomes riddled with fear and negative thoughts. We are damned if we do, and damned if we don’t. This is the madness of our monkey-mind, or ego.

Buddha knew this, Jesus knew this, and all the great teachers have come to this basic conclusion themselves. We cannot fully appreciate the hold ego-mind has on our thoughts and behaviour until we slow down enough to hear it. If we can sit and just witness, without believing its insane commentary, we can learn to recognize it starting it spiel.

It’s in this precious moment that we begin to join the consciousness of our True Nature. Really? we begin to ask ourselves. This much nonsense cannot possibly be true. When we sit in a witness place, not judging and just watching our essence it’s obvious that only Love exists. The fear that arises is the false self (little me) trying to justify its teeny tiny worldview. Why don’t we just try holding it with love and watch it dissolve? Its just a thought anyway.

It seems we have all had our share of fear thoughts lately. What can we do when we feel hopelessly lost in our thoughts and emotions?

For us, the first step is to realize what is happening and draw on our desire for peace and happiness. We can choose to love ourselves immediately, before guilt and self doubt come to see what’s going on. We can use an affirmation that we have practiced in meditation and choose to forgive ourselves for buying into an illusion that was created by the false self.

For example we might say, “I forgive myself for using this (situation) to attack myself and separate from love”. 

We can also bring to mind the love that we have experienced in our lives and embrace ourselves and the situation in the memory of that experience of pure peace. There is no reason to keep the attack going. We may as well stop, notice, forgive, and then laugh at the ego’s insane attempt to draw us into another of its crazy stories. Why prolong the agony? Let’s stop the madness now.