April 14, 2014
Spring is in full bloom in northern California. The rhododendrons, azaleas, viburnum and flowering cherry trees are bursting with flowers. It’s gorgeous.
I spent the morning rowing on Humboldt Bay with two dear friends in perfect conditions; flat water, no wind, sun shining and so much birdlife. Even the seals were curiously poking their heads up alongside our boats to check us out. Mornings like this are full of connection and belonging. They’re the threads that weave and bind us to ourselves, to our families and friends, and to our communities and the natural world. It’s the stuff of spiritual practice.
In our meditation groups, we show up week after week to sit together, to practice together. None of us could do this without the other. Our practice depends on it. We could actually say that our lives depend on it, because they do. I depend on my weekly groups as one of the core supports for my life.
Whatever our practice is, whether it’s in a formal setting, out in nature, reading a book, listening to music, talking with a friend, making a meal, it feeds our spirits and we can’t do it alone. We might we think we can, but for practice to really flourish, we need each other.
Each week in class our meditations include both mindfulness/insight practice as well as metta, the practice of intentionally inclining the mind and heart towards goodwill and kindness. But they’re really not separate practices. Mindfulness is inherently kind, and being kind is by nature mindful.
I don’t think we can be kind without being mindful. It just doesn’t work because the intention is ultimately the same; to settle the mind, open the heart, and cultivate a soft resilience that allows us to be engaged in our lives skillfully and wisely without rancor or contention. In fact, the Dalai Lama talks about these practices as “the process of internal disarmament.”
Mindfulness and kindness are intimately and inextricably linked, and the outcome is a clear mind and a loving heart. When we intentionally infuse our lives with kindness and awareness, our connections deepen and our sense of belonging grows.
A Rabbit Noticed My Condition
I was sad one day and went for a walk;
I sat in a field.
A rabbit noticed my condition and
It often does not take more than that to help at times-
To just be close to creatures who
Are so full of knowing,
So full of love
That they don’t
They just gaze with their
-St. John of the Cross