GREAT MORNING BELOVED!!
There was a wonderful Daily Word on Friday…did you see it?
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.