New Dharma Talk: Waking up to Our Spiritual Freedom

Our spiritual freedom is always available, even in the presence of difficulty, constriction and suffering. A moment of compassionate remembering and we can find release and freedom in this very moment.

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An Old Zen Saying About Sitting

There are lots of old Zen sayings, but this one in particular, which I saw posted on Facebook last week by Leisa Hammett, gave me a smile.

536059_10152524903790705_611414233_nThis reminds me a of blog post I wrote in a similar spirit, “Time Enough to Wake Up.”

Use What You’ve Been Given to Wake Up

A good reminder for anyone who feels disadvantaged in some way:

“Our life’s work is to use what we have been given to wake up. If there were two people exactly the same-same body, same speech, same mind, same mother, same father, same house, same food, everything the same- one of them could use what he has to wake up and the other could use it to become more resentful, bitter, and sour. It doesn’t matter what you are given, whether it’s a physical deformity or enormous wealth or poverty, beauty or ugliness, mental stability or mental instability, life in the middle of a mad house or life in the middle of a peaceful silent desert. Whatever you’re given can wake you up or put you to sleep. That’s the challenge of now: what are you going to do with what you have already-your body, your speech, your mind?”

From Pema Chodron’s book, Awakening Lovingkindness

 

Time Enough to Wake Up

If you’re a regular meditator, chances are that you sometimes feel restless, wishing for the allotted practice time to end. If you have a clock handy you may peek once in a while.  I confess that I have done this myself occasionally when I’ve been in a very busy or challenging time in my life.  But I discovered an antidote to the restlessness that may seem counterintuitive. When I see that I’m checking the clock or longing for the meditation time to end, I extend it. I’ve learned that when I squeeze my meditation into a parameter of time, I cut it off, make it small and constrain my mind from the infinite and unfettered nature of this moment.

Sometimes I may only extend the meditation session five or ten minutes, depending on my schedule, but I’ve extended it longer on mornings when I have time. The actual length of time isn’t that important, even a few extra minutes can make a difference. As soon as I change my orientation from “hurry up” to “I’ll be here for a while,” my entire demeanor changes. I relax and let go of time. I settle into whatever I was resisting. The moment becomes interesting again, no matter how I’m feeling or what I’m thinking. The illusion of some other time or some other place vanishes. There is only this moment, perfect and complete.