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The 4th invitation is “Find a place of rest in the middle of things.”

GREAT MORNING BELOVED!!


There was a wonderful Daily Word on Friday…did you see it?

Friendship

I AM GRATEFUL FOR MY FRIENDS.

I give thanks today for my friends. My friendships are among the great gifts of my life, sources of fun during my easiest times and support during my toughest.

Friends accept me just as I am, and their understanding gives me room to grow and change. Friends are the family I choose, and the ties that bind us help give life meaning—a history with memories I can treasure and a future I know will be full of love.

I let my friends know what they mean to me by responding in kind. I am supportive when friends are struggling and share their sorrows when they’re hurting. I delight in their joys and love to celebrate their blessings. Throughout all the seasons of life, I am as dependable, present, and accepting as a good friend can be.

Friends are so important to our wellbeing. I am so grateful for my friends, both here and in other places.

Anyway— it’s always wonderful to see you. I am very grateful for you all, both here in person, and those who take the time to join us on FB live and later on FB and our web page.

We are working our way through Frank Ostaseski’s book, “The Five Invitations-Discovering what death can teach us about living fully.” Today, we take a rest…the 4th invitation is “Find a place of rest in the middle of things.”

This is something we all have an issue with, right? Finding peace in our day? How often do you say to yourself, ‘today I’m going to start that book I’ve been wanting to read, or maybe get back into meditation or contemplation? Maybe you’d like to spend more time with the kids or grandkids, or take a walk on the beach?

But what do we do instead?  Yea, you fill in the blank!

Frank reminds us, ‘we often think of rest as something that will come to us when everything else in our lives is complete: at the end of the day, when we take a bath, once we go on holiday or get through all our to-do-lists. We imagine that we can only find rest by changing our circumstances.’

The 4th Invitation teaches us that we can find a place of rest within us, without having to alter the conditions of our lives.

This place of rest is always available to us. We need only turn toward it. It is experienced when we bring our full attention, without distractions, to this moment, to this activity. With sincere practice, we can come to know this spaciousness as a regular part of our lives. It manifests as an aspect of us that is never sick, is not born, and does not die.”

Here’s an example, see if you get it…there is a Zen story of a monk who is vigorously sweeping the temple grounds. Another monk walks by and snips, “Too busy.”

The first monk replied, “You should know there is one who is not too busy.”

What’s the moral here? Outwardly, he appears ‘too busy,’ but inwardly, he has recognized the quietness of his state of mind.

Just like Brother Lawrence and washing the pots and pans. The most effective way Brother Lawrence had for communicating with God was to simply do his ordinary work. He believed it was a serious mistake to think of our prayer time as being different from any other. Our actions should unite us with God when we are involved in our daily activities.

Can you do that? Be busy on the outside and calm on the inside?

Most of us think we are too busy. Probably we are, but also the way we think about the topic matters.

We get caught up in the time-driven, scarcity mentality or move unconsciously from one moment to the next, we are a prisoner of our thoughts.

Finding a place of rest is about choice – it’s a choice to be alert, to bring your attention to the present moment. Multitasking is an exhausting myth.  We can only live one moment at a time.

But this seems boring, frustrating. Some exclaim; “I’ll sleep when I’m dead!”  

So, we become addicted to busy. We confuse rest with non-productivity and laziness.

We imagine we are accomplishing more, when in reality we are living less.

Computers were supposed to free us up, provide more leisure time and greater human connectivity.

Do you fear rest? Many doctors and nurses often speak of exhaustion. Yet they continue to push themselves at work. Why?

See if this fits you… “They fear that if they were to stop racing around, the enormous suffering that have witnessed would crash through their defenses. Tears would flow, and they would be unable to stop crying.”

You don’t have to be a nurse or doctor to experience these feelings.

We build armor around our hearts to block the pain but that also prevents tenderness from entering. We are afraid we will be forgotten, and the loneliness and emptiness we fear will surface.

Ask yourself this question—”what’s right about being exhausted?” Do you think….

          People believe I am hard working.

          I get credit for being dedicated.

          Being overworked and worn out means I matter.

          People feel sorry for me, and that makes me feel loved.

Rest is found when we are present instead of letting our minds wander aimlessly through the hallways of fear, worry, and anxiousness. Rest comes when we become more by doing less, when we don’t allow the urgent to crowd out the important. It is the result of a decluttering of the mind and decoupling from fixed views.

We have a perfect example right outside our windows…Follow nature. It knows.  We are entering the seasons of rest, so follow nature as it goes into rest.

Angeles Arrien: “Nature’s rhythm is medium to slow. Many of us live out of nature’s rhythm. There are two things we can never do in the fast lane; we can neither deepen our experience nor integrate it.”

“Living out of touch with the primal rhythms of life takes a toll on us.” “When we lose touch with the rhythms of nature, we become unbalanced with the land around us.”

Maybe this is part of our environmental ‘learning opportunity’?


Have you heard someone say, “I’m trying to rest,”? 

Our writer tells us; “Trying to rest is not resting; it’s just more trying.” It’s just like Yoda, Jedi Master said, “Do or do not, there is not try.”


We can’t seek the deepest rest through striving to change the way things are. We can only relax the activity that obstructs our contact with the rest.

Frank tells us: “This is the real paradox of the spiritual life: that which can save us also can drive us mad. Seeking has a place in this world. It isn’t all bad. In order to begin our spiritual journeys, we must be motivated by seeking a better life—deeper connections with ourselves and others; explanations for our existential questions; relief from our pain and suffering. Yet too often our quests for peace and fulfillment get entangled with striving. We read books, seek out teachers, and go looking for our tribes. We accumulate practices, beliefs, and strategies as we seek solutions. We continuously search for answers outside of ourselves.”

He suggests that we “become ‘wholesome desire’ seekers, that is the desire to be free, to know what is true and to be completely ourselves.”

What a nice place to be.

When our awareness comes to rest in the peaceful depths of our essential nature, our seeking just ends.

A truly open mind is deep in restfulness, attained by accepting and understanding our desires.

Try this…Pause at the threshold of a room to break the momentum of habit. It gives us a choice. A choice to be open or closed. Open to what is unfolding or selective in our allowing of it.

Being a seeker is an inevitable step on the spiritual path. Ponder these questions to help you seek your truth.

What does death have to teach us? Begin to look at endings. The end of an exhale, the end of a day, the end of a meal, the end of a sentence.

Our author asks these questions: how do you meet endings in life?

Do you go unconscious around them?

Do you leave, either emotionally or mentally, before an event is over?

Or are you the last one in the parking lot, watching as the final participants depart?

Do you feel sad and get teary-eyed about endings? Or anxious?

Or are you indifferent, isolating yourself and withdrawing into a protective cocoon?

Do you stop talking to others before the end arrives?

When leaving work for the evening, do you say farewell to colleagues and clients?

Do you wait for other to acknowledge the end, or do you jump the gun?

Do you visit friends who are dying? Do you think it doesn’t matter if you don’t say good-bye?

All things change…what story do you put to the change? Sad? Disappointed? Depressed? Or content? Happy?

The way we end one experience shapes the way the next one arises. Clinging to the old makes it difficult for something new to emerge.

“Our Breath offers us an opportunity to study our relationship with endings in an intimate way. Breathing is a living process, constantly changing and moving in cycles – inhale, pause, exhale, pause. Every breath has a beginning, middle, and end. Every breath goes from a beginning, middle and end. Every breath goes through a process of birth, growth and death. Breathing is a microcosm of life itself.”

Breath animates human life and sustains it. It comes before thought and words.

Breathing only happens in real time. Life can only be lived in the present, not the past or future. And this present moment is the only place where we can rest.

Frank ends this section of the book discussing fear.

“The willingness to sit with fear is an act of courage.”

Fear doesn’t require a basis in reality in order to have an impact on us. No matter what its cause, the fear still feels real. That said, it’s best not to treat fear as the absolute truth.

Living from a place of fear can narrow our vision, shrinking our lives down to what is comfortable and familiar. We easily become consumed with safety precautions and the dread of uncertainty, constantly looking over our shoulders.  It is reasonable to want to protect ourselves and those we love. But being driven by fear alone, we stop using our common sense and make unwise choices. We grow less willing to take risks and face conflict or disapproval…

Unaddressed fear is a self-imposed exile, a prison of our own making. The goal is not to get rid of all fear. Rather it is to free ourselves from fear’s choke hold around our lives, to learn to face our fear with courageous presence.

Taking fear as our teacher and learning to work skillfully with it can lead us to some degree of inner freedom.  We quickly see that operating from a place of fear means we have little trust in reality. We are separated from others, from the possibility of unity. This is our default position. In Buddhist circles, the small, cut-off sense of self is sometimes called ‘the body of fear.’ It takes physical form as a shell of tension around us, a stiffening of our bodies, a thickening of our defenses against the fear. Then the mind becomes rigid and confused. The heart closes.

A separation does need to occur, but not the one we might have imagined. In coping with fear, it is helpful to distinguish our emotional states from the object of which we are afraid. When we obsess about the objects we fear, we avoid contact with the emotion itself. Like the monster in the closet, the thing we fear may not even exist, but all of our attention to it turns the illusion into reality.

When we discern the difference between the emotion and the object, we can see the part we play in the process. Then we can begin to unhook ourselves from the overwhelm. We relax and temporarily hold the fear in the container of the body, supported by steady breathing, so that we can examine the mind’s operations—the beliefs, assumptions, memories, and stories that underpin the fear. In this way, we can begin to reduce our reactivity.

“The Five Invitations – Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully.” We are on Invitation #3 – “Bring your whole self to the experience.”

We’re back! Special greetings to you all. We continue our discussion of the book by Frank Ostaseski, “The Five Invitations – Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully.” We are on Invitation #3 – “Bring your whole self to the experience.”

I highly recommend this book, there is much, much more in the chapters than I am including in these 5 weeks. I’m merely hitting SOME highlights…if it is interesting to you, get a copy or borrow mine. You will be glad you did.

Frank starts out this invitation with an interesting idea…suppose you could take a photo of yourself and print it on thick, stiff cardboard that included your whole body, including a multi-dimensional of your whole being including your personality.

Now, you take a laser-cutting die and make a jigsaw puzzle.

Spread the 1000 or so pieces out and begin to put yourself back together.

As you progress passed the easy edges, you might come across a part you didn’t like…maybe your fear of something, or your lust for something and you think that fear isn’t something you wish you had, or you recall lust wasn’t a good thing to have if we are spiritual folks. So, you don’t include these pieces.

As you continue, ‘deeming certain aspects of yourself acceptable and others not. After a while, your puzzle wouldn’t be recognizable because it’s so fragmented, holes everywhere.

You wouldn’t be able to see the whole picture.

We all want to look good, projecting an image of confidence, sensitive, spiritual, strong, intelligent and certainly well adjusted. We don’t want to be known for anger, fear, helplessness.

However, our experiences give us the ability, the compassion to connect with others as they may be experiencing these same traits. If the cancer this body experienced or abuse experienced as a child can help another, then that aspect is part of ‘what is mine to do’ during this lifetime.

Because after “what is mine to do” continues “and then do it.”

Frank tells us: “it is the wisdom gained from our own suffering, vulnerability, and healing that enables us to be of real assistance to others. It is the exploration of our inner lives that facilitates us in forming an empathetic bridge from our experience to others.

To be whole, we need to include, accept, and connect all parts of our selves. We need acceptance of our conflicting qualities and the seeming incongruity of our inner and outer worlds.

Wholeness does not mean perfection. It means no part left out.

So, lets imagine for a few minutes yourself as a jigsaw puzzle, and what parts would you want to leave out? How much of the puzzle would be left after you removed the unwanted parts of yourself? Something to consider this week…

This chapter also talks about our roles, some of which you may have left out of your jigsaw puzzle…those things we fall back on when we are in fear, for example. We are vulnerable and courageous at the same time as we hold the space for those who are reaching out to us, often as they are waiting for that moment when they transition from this plane to the next.

My role as oldest daughter, closest friend to my Mother as she lay in the hospital bed, just wanting no pain was established long before that moment. I walked into the hospital ‘room’ with family around the bed. The bedside chair was made available as I walked in and the words, ‘she’s been asking for you’, made my role now as caretaker even more established.

It was on me for choices to be made on her comfort, getting answers from the doctors about hospice care, but, no it’s too late for that, just a ‘real room’ for comfort, quiet and privacy.

I got to my Mother’s room Sunday afternoon after rushing out of our Service, just giving my Message.  Monday evening she transitioned.

Then more roles as what to do next.

“We are social animals and have a multitude of roles as we travel through our lives.

‘Roles are neither good nor bad. They are primarily functional and provide for some needed predictability in our lives, especially when it comes to interpersonal relationships.”

Developmentally, our roles change as we move through life.

For me, I didn’t have much opportunity to be a kid, for many reasons, but soon I became big sister, babysitter, teacher, cook, cleaner, housekeeper, because I had to.

Finally, I got to be friend because a part of my role as school student was added, I met others. Girlfriend, worker, driver, college student, spiritual explorer….many roles.

I have often asked the Tuesday Group about their roles, often they do not go very far back as they shared.  Sometimes that is hard, painful to do. Survivor was added to my roles several times, as a baby when the house blew up from gas, and abuse, from auto accidents, from cancer and other surgeries…

These are all roles. We really need a long sheet of paper to add them all.

Each role comes complete with its own expected set of behaviors, functions, and responsibilities.

But our roles are a choice. I chose to be the caretaker for my Mother. I chose to work with her to help her past her victim belief and hope she could learn to see what a wonderful, intelligent, strong woman she was.

Sometimes my role as daughter on my spiritual journey conflicted with her victim mentality. She wanted to continually fall back on that place of confronting hers and my abuse. That was easy for her, it was familiar. Sometimes it’s hard to move forward.

So, I had to carefully allow her opportunities to open her eyes and heart to see and HEAR me as I tried to come to terms with my experiences. Her role as victim was tested until she could see that her role as Mother was so much more important.

This is how roles can and do change as we go through life. They do. They will if we allow it.

It is important that we don’t over-identify with our roles. You may know of someone who, after retiring from a job held for many years, was so attached to their role, that they fell into despair and maybe even finally died because of that attachment.

We are not what we do, what we think, what we feel, what we say, or what we have.

Ram Dass: “Don’t be a role; be a soul.”

We are not our roles or conditions. Recall Myrtle Fillmore, “I am a child of God and therefore do not inherit disease.”

Frank tells us: “We are first and foremost human beings, with all the complexity, fragility, and wonder that life encompasses. When we only look through the lens of a role, it narrows our vision of the world. We don’t see things and people as they actually are, but rather project our story onto them. This frequently causes us to attribute a particular significance to an experience and miss the true meaning that is trying to emerge.”

“Naomi Remen, MD, “Helping, fixing, and serving represent three different ways of seeing life. When you help, you see life as weak. When you fix, you see life as broken. When you serve, you see life as whole. Fixing and helping may be the work of ego, and service the work of the soul.”

To be in service Frank suggests we sit with another person without a solution to their problem, without playing a role. No analyzing, no fixing, no meddling. Listen. Be a listening presence.

Our roles are not enough…we need the courage to be authentically whole. Its saying what is so when it is so. Its showing up, doing what we say we will do, remembering our commitments, and honoring our agreements.

While service is natural for most of us, it isn’t always easy. Sometimes we get caught up in a role. We become drained. We have to remember what called our souls to serve in the first place. Discover what we love and do it. Find new life in our path. Rediscover that zeal and be born again in it.

WE must learn early, I wish, that we can’t please our inner critic. It has something to say, usually very negative, about everything. Nothing you do is good enough.

This inner voice says, “It’s my way or the highway!” Using weapons of fear, shame, and guilt in order to get you to do what it wants.

This inner critic comes from our pursuit of perfection, which is learned early on. To bring our whole self to the experience, we must address the often unconscious, voice of the inner critic.

Without removing this obstacle, we are blocked from discovering our self-acceptance, blocked from our power, and keeps us from connecting and empathizing with others.

Embracing wholeness is a loving act of reclamation, a “both/and” way of meeting life, replacing “either/or” mentality.

The critic says, “Trust me. I know you so well. I’ve been through this before.” Wisdom says, “Relax into your experience. You can trust yourself to know what to do.”

Wisdom teaches us how to discover what is really true.

Trust your inner Higher Self, connected always to the Source, all Wisdom, Always.