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Lions Roar : September 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN SepteMBer 2009 47 voice can be extremely illuminating. and forgetting about your own trouble long enough to actually listen to another is a great relief. it is likely to cause you to feel sympathy, even love. there is no better medicine than thinking of others, even if for only five minutes. Working with these practices, you’ll get a grip on the kinds of thinking and feeling that arise when conditions are difficult. the goal is not to make the thoughts and feelings go away: when there is loss or trouble, it is normal to feel sorrow, fear, despair, confusion, discouragement, and so on. these feel- ings connect us to others, who feel them as we do, so we don’t want to eliminate them. but it would be good to have some perspective—and occasional relief—so these thoughts don’t get the best of us and become full-blown demons pushing us around. having Considered soMe extensions of meditation practice, let’s return to the basic prac- tice. When you sit, noticing the breath and the body on the chair or cushion, noticing the thoughts and feelings in the mind and heart and perhaps also the sounds in the room and the stillness, some- thing else also begins to come into view. you notice the most fundamental of all facts: you are alive. you are a living, breathing, embodied human being. you can actually feel this—feel the feeling of being alive. you can rest in this basic feeling, the nature of life, of consciousness, the underlying basis of everything you will ever experience—even the negativity. sitting there with this basic feeling of being alive, you will feel gratitude. after all, you didn’t ask for this; you didn’t earn it. it is just there, a gift to you. it won’t last forever, but for now, in this moment, here it is, perfect, complete. and you are sharing it with everything else that exists in this stark, basic, and beautiful way. Whatever your problems and challenges, you are, you exist in this bright world with others, with trees, sky, water, stars, sun, and moon. if you sit there long enough and regularly enough you will feel this, even in your darkest moments. and based on this experience, you will reflect differently on your life. What is really important? how much do your expectations and social constructs really matter? What really counts? What is the bottom line for a human life? to be alive. Well, you are alive. to love others and be loved by others. Well, you do love, and it is within your power to love more deeply. and if you do, it is guaranteed that others will respond to you with more love. to be kind to others and to receive kindness is also within your power, regardless of expectations, losses, and circumstances. you need to eat every day, it is true. you need a good place to sleep at night. you need some sort of work to do, but probably you have these things, and if you do you can offer them to others. once The nature of our world is transitory—always has been, always will be. Change oc- curs every second. Breathe it in, then breathe it out. But despite the interconnected- ness of everything, we still have a say on how we handle the weave in the fabric. We can let the status quo confine us to a narrow thread, or we cut through that fabric to see its true nature. Our lessons cannot be learned if the sun is shining every day. And on rainy days, we might share our umbrella with another. Michael Shillingford Dealing with Difficult Times: Share your stories at www.shambhalasun/ sunspace. ➢ page 95