I’m returning to moderate a new session of LIGHT UP YOUR LIFE AND YOUR BRAIN, at the end of September. I really look forward to joining with LIFE activists in practicing being present, being with ourselves as we are, learning to be at home and at ease with ourselves, observing how we react and respond in the moment. I recently went through a stressful period of what I’ll call “home maintenance.” An old tree at the cottage was dying and had to be taken down. In the city, a leak in the basement washroom looked threatening. And so on. A whole bunch of things, all at once. Lots of choices and decisions. I chose a maple tree to replace the dying linden tree. The maple is called Autumn Fantasy and will turn red and orange in the fall. The basement leak has been repaired….and the plumber noticed that my hot water tank was corroded and needed replacement.
Pema Chodron, my #1 favourite Buddhist teacher, says: BE GRATEFUL TO EVERYONE. In these cases, her lesson applies….though I draw the line. We can’t always be grateful to everyone. Terrible things happen….for which there can be no gratitude. My experience, and awareness of history, tells me….I was hiking in Ireland in August. A beautiful country, wonderful people. We learned a lot about the suffering of Irish people, the cruel treatment by the English, who acted toward the Irish as if the Irish were sub-human; the famine in 1849-1850 when one million Irish people died and one million emigrated, many to Canada. My grandmother came from Westport, County Mayo, where we were hiking.
It’s the daily practice that counts. Take a breath, pause in the moment, look at the sky, encode…. this precious gift of life. There is no other moment, just here and now.
Ezra Bayda says, in Being Zen, about dealing with fear: “The practice, whenever fear arose, was to ask simply, ‘What is this?’ The answer always lies in the physical experience of the moment.” Instead of pushing our feelings away, he says, we want to be open and curious about whatever arises within us, look at the thoughts, feel the body sensations. “By allowing ourselves to be afraid, we come to realize that this horrible feeling of dread is just a combination of strong physical sensations and some deeply held beliefs about ourselves.” (page 70 and 71).
Keep breathing. Try to listen to the sound of the wind in the trees.