One of the unfortunate legacies of the Newtonian revolutions is the fracturing of the self. We set the physical body against the emotional body against the spiritual against the mental. Yes, these are different aspects of who we are, but behind them all is one self. And yet, we relate to ourselves as if there is only aspect or another. We are at war with ourselves, embracing those parts that work for us and banishing those that we consider to be “not me.”
How do we bring these different aspects back together again? What is the path to Wholeness?
A place to start is the heart-mind. In Western history, we distinguish between the heart and mind, between the physical/emotional and the mental. In many Eastern traditions, heart and mind are the same thing. It is heart-mind.
How do we stay plugged into the heart-mind? How do we in the West bridge the perceived difference between heart and mind?
A place to start is simply noticing how Self shows up in our bodily sensations, then in our stream of thoughts, then in our emotions. We simply note all of this and keep in (heart-)mind that it’s all the same Self.
Surrender is a paradox. When we surrender, we actually achieve real and authentic power. How is it possible that we are more powerful in surrendering?
The Buddha discovered that the mind enslaves us in conditioning that is reinforced through the repetition of habits. Jesus was a revolutionary precisely because he represented a break from the rigid and repetitive ways of thinking that dictated his society. Krishna counsels Arjuna on the battlefield that it is in the present moment that we must master our minds, which keep us trapped in the vicious cycle of samsara, of the past repeating itself in our present and future. Two days ago, our Muslim brethren began Ramadan, which involves fasting, a ritual break from those things that keep us apart from God in each and every moment.
We are slaves to our conditioning. Our habits define us. We don’t even realize the ways in which we are gripped by them: Our friend says something, and we already know what they are going to say. We make the same commute in traffic, and next thing we know, we have somehow guided ourselves back home without even remembering how we got there. Our partner says something with a bit of a tone, and the next thing we know, we’re fighting the same argument we’ve fought a hundred times before.
Surrender offers us freedom from this conditioning. It is a recognition that we are trapped in our conditioned ways of thinking, speaking, and doing, and saying, “I know where this is going to take me, and I don’t want to go there anymore. I choose to give up, trusting that I will be led to a place I’ve never been before.”
It is a surrender to every possibility made available by the unknown. It is in this infinitude of possibilities that we derive power, a power that can only be accessed through surrender.
This post has taken a while to write. And in that way in which Life provides the curriculum, I feel like it took going through the past few days to really fully appreciate the focus of this particular blog post: creating spaciousness in one’s life.
Pema Chodron does a really great job of talking about how we need to create a sense of spaciousness to see that the craziness in our minds is small compared to the natural space and balance that already exists before our thoughts, problems, and emotions fill up our mind.
What I have gotten from the past few days is that, even if spaciousness is the natural state of our minds, it does take conscious effort to return to that space. We can’t just assume that we can sit in meditation for an indefinite period of time or adopt a positive attitude towards our circumstances and expect that spaciousness will just automatically emerge.
It is in being conscious in our seeking and returning to the mind’s natural state of spaciousness that we realize that state. …
I have a commitment to write a blog entry daily, to the best of my ability. It gives me an opportunity to pause and reflect on what’s going on in my life. I was having trouble “coming up” with something to write about. And that’s when it hit me: I fill my life with activity. That’s not a bad thing. Yet, when it comes to slowing down and just being in the present moment, it’s no wonder I am experiencing a bit of discomfort.
And it’s no irony that, this morning, my guided meditation from the Chopra Center focused on the experience of quieting the mind to be reminded of Nothing, that space where there is no activity, no endless mind-chatter. Just sweet Nothing.
In an economic and technological era in which we fill our lives with “more, more, more,” sometimes the answer isn’t more. In fact, most times, the answer is Nothing….