This morning I was reading from Jack Kornfield's wonderful book, Bringing Home the Dharma: Awakening Right Where You Are. I've been focusing on the chapter titled," Spiritual Maturity." In it he writes:
"Fruit falls from a tree naturally when ripe. After due time in spiritual life, the heart, like fruit, begins to mature and sweeten. Our practice shifts from the green hard growth of seeking, developing, and improving ourselves to a resting in mystery. It shifts from reliance on form to a resting in the heart."
This is precisely where I find myself these days. To me, the world feels unstable and what's happening in it (caused by my fellow humans, of course) beyond comprehension. And Kornfield's words also give voice to where I find myself in terms of my spiritual life. I desire more than anything to live in the landscape of the heart. I pursued spiritual practice as a means of self-improvement for many years; to be more this or that. Today, spiritual practice for me is not much more than a sweet roadhouse, a place of awareness to drop into that promises no cure or answers, just rest.
Resting, as Kornfield affirms, not struggling. Not caught in fear and worry. Not lost in sadness or anger. Not imprisoned by apathy or hopelessness. Resting in the "heart-mind" as my teacher Ram Dass calls it allows the world to be its crazy self, but frees me from feeling crazy too.
Resting in this place of love and peace allows me to hold myself compassionately when I am shocked, saddened and frustrated by world events (or even the "unwanted" events that have presented themselves in my own little life). It enables me to hold others in my loosely mended heart so that I stay in touch with the suffering of others, yet not paralyzed by such hardship.
How do you get to the place of being able to rest in the heart-mind or "spiritual heart" even in the midst of adversity? You practice. And you dedicate yourself to intentional periods of practice, to Sadhanas, as often as you can.
The Sadhana I propose for this purpose looks like this: You sit, you breathe, you listen to all that arises, but then you set those thoughts and feelings aside briefly, just for a few moments, so you can remember your true nature (goodness, peace, calm, love); so you can get beyond ego-based living and the limited confines of your personality; so you can hold the drama of the world differently and, ultimately, be of good use in the repair of world.
You do a Sadhana like this as often as you can for as many days as you can until it becomes a habit. You do it anytime, anywhere. You may do it around certain themes, like compassion, love, or peace. In time, with dedicated effort, you'll begin to feel the events of the world roll out at your feet and discover that you're able handle whatever has shown up with grace.
Why is having even a short, 5-minute a day spiritual practice non-negotiable? Because it provides a path for you to follow when you're struggling to stay steady. A Sadhana is one very good way to stay sane amidst the chaos and craziness of life.
©2015, Janice L. Lundy
Join me for 31-days of inter-spiritual practice beginning Friday, January 1. "Holding the Light," a dedicated period of Sadhana will guide and companion you as you go deeper into your own spiritual heart. Learn how you can stay steady amidst the chaos of life in as little as 5-minutes a day. Harness your inner good for the good of all beings everywhere this January. Here's how.
In the last few weeks we have witnessed some of the most disturbing events in recent history. It's a challenging time to be alive. And it's a challenging time to stay steady, positive and open-hearted when there is so much hurt happening everywhere.
When times are tough, what do you do? How do you maintain your equanimity? How do you diffuse your frustration or anger? How do you calm your worry?
What helps me?
I go to the water's edge. (Today, I am at the library writing this, sitting overlooking Boardman Lake.) I stay away from crowded, noisy places. I honor my need to be still and reflect on what is happening around me and within me. I pray.
Lately, I go to short prayers. Organic prayers. "Help us." "Help me." "Please ease the pain of all those who are suffering." "May the heaviness in our hearts be lifted." "May we not lose faith or give up hope."
Sometimes, I pick up a book that contains beautiful prayers; prayers whose language is so universal, so openhearted and filled with love for the Divine that all my emotions pale and bow to the passion expressed by the poet.
Today, I am perusing God Makes the Rivers to Flow: Sacred Literature of the World, selected by Eknath Easwaran. If your thoughts are running wild or your emotions feel difficult to control, you may want to go to prayers/meditations like these to anchor your attention. And keep your heart open.
My new book, Portable Peace: A Weekly Guidebook is an equally valuable resource for staying steady in challenging times. It offers 52 original practices, one each week, to help you stay calm-bodied, clear-minded, and open-hearted no matter what is happening in your life. Or in the world!
Learn more and order your copy here.
I had someone unsubscribe from my e-mail list the other day saying my work was "flat, boring and irrelevant."
My main response to this unexpected missive was, "Really?" I'd been promoting my new book Portable Peace to my list. It's possible s/he had had enough e-mails about the book's release. It's also possible inner peace was not important to this person. Or that they thought peace was not even possible in today's world.
The timing of his/her comment was ironic. Just as the book was being published the Paris bombings occurred. More acts of terrorism ensued and I could feel a flood of fear begin to wash over the people I knew. I watched it surge through Facebook. I thought to myself, this is exactly why inner peace is so important.
The world is a crazy place, perhaps getting even crazier by the minute. I choose not to focus on the insanity in my postings or blogging because I believe that what we focus on expands. If we focus on fear of attack, we will become more fearful. If we worry that we or our loved ones might become victims of attack, we already are victims because that's how terrorism works. Terrorism is about instilling fear in an attempt to control the minds of others.
I choose, instead, to focus on "the good, right and true." I point myself (especially my thoughts and actions) toward what will help. What will uphold the values that we long to see more present in the world. Like peace and compassion and kindness.
If we want to "fight" terrorism, the best thing we can do is take control of our own thoughts and feelings. We must learn how to work with them skillfully so they do not run us—making us even more fearful, worried, anxious or sick. There is a deep well of calm within each of us. We just need to learn how to tap into that reservoir so it cools down our wild thoughts and fiery emotions.
It's imperative to know how to stay calm, wherever we are, no matter what is happening in our lives, or we will suffer immensely. We cannot let fear control us. Being run by fear is a terrible way to live.
The Buddha taught that peace in the world is absolutely possible and I believe this with all my heart. The peace we seek in the world begins with me. And with you. It has to. If we don't do our part to stay calm, clear and wise in the midst of adversity, all we are doing is contributing more suffering to the world. Peace is a matter of individual responsibility. Choosing it again and again all throughout the day is our path.
Inner peace practices are absolutely relevant—and completely necessary—for life in the real world. In fact, they might actually be more important now than ever before as our world community teeters on the edge of normalizing terrorism and offering warlike responses.
Staying calm may seem insignificant to some, but not when you put millions of equally calm people in one place. The results can be profound and game changing. I hope you will join me and make inner peace your priority, as it is mine. Breath by breath, choice by choice, we can create ripples, waves, of kind peace and change our lives as we currently know them.
is a touchpoint. a resting place, a "remembering" of who we really are and how we can best live—kindly and compassionately with ourselves and others.
Janice Lynne Lundy, DMin
is an educator, interspiritual director/guide and retreat leader who has been pointing people back toward the Sacred for more than twenty years. She is the author of several spiritual growth books, including Your Truest Self, My Deepest Me and Portable Peace., and is the co-founder and co-director of the Spiritual Guidance Training Institute.