Daily Practice: A Weekly Reminder, 1/21/2024

Things don’t always go as planned.  Right?  Life is always going in its own ways, which are bigger, wider and more complicated than we understand.  And yet we still, constantly, expect something different. Something expectable.  As if our own expectations are the measure and priority of Life.  My goodness, the self-centeredness of the ego is incredible!

I’ve been studying recently with a Zen teacher, and have been reminded that one of the most important of daily spiritual practices is to allow what is real to be present.  To allow.  Snow and ice are perhaps easy examples – we can see and feel and touch them, and so it’s not hard to be convinced that they are real. (And that we must dress accordingly, move (or not) accordingly).

Yet even with awareness of their realness, we can find ourselves negotiating with that realness, trying to tailor it to our expectations – that the snow and ice should come and go quickly, for example. 

One of the best ways to soften expectations – perhaps even to set them aside for a while and begin to understand their unnecessary urgency – is to allow ourselves to become still.  If we can quiet our bodies enough, becoming aware of the breath as it comes and goes, the mind can follow and take a break from its constant organizing, planning, worrying, expecting.  This doesn’t happen immediately – it takes time – which is what daily practice is for. 

Here in the Fellowship, we have religious ideals and commitments – to the freedom to be safe and to thrive, to justice, to continual learning as a way to become more compassionate, more loving.  None of these can be accomplished through the strategic machinations of the mind, nor merely through expectations.  All involve greater understanding of what is real – within us, between us and around us, all of which take practice.  In the week ahead, may we allow ourselves more time for stillness, for the quieting of body and mind, for allowing the way things are to become more clear.  May we help each other in this practice!