Contemporary society fosters our tendency to deny reality—we seek to protect ourselves from any direct difficulty and discomfort. We expend enormous energy denying change, covering our insecurity, fighting pain, death, and loss, and hiding from the basic truths of the natural world.
We use addictions to avoid painful feelings and to deny the difficulties of our lives. Advertising and media urge us to keep consuming, buying, smoking, drinking, and craving food, entertainment, money, and sex. Our addictions serve to numb us to the real problems of the world and keep us busy with our fixes.
Modern multitasking demands life at double time, and numbs us to our own experience. In such a state it is almost impossible to settle into our bodies or stay connected with our hearts, let alone connect with one another or the earth where we live. Instead, we find ourselves increasingly isolated and lonely, cut off from one another and the natural web of life. That is the most pervasive sorrow in our modern society. Not only have individuals lost the sense of their interconnection, this isolation is the sorrow of nations as well. The forces of separation and denial breed international misunderstanding, ecological disaster, racism, tribalism and an endless series of conflicts between nations. When we are at war in ourselves, it shifts to the outside and we become warlike people and warlike nations.
Mindfulness and compassion practice can help us cultivate a new way of relating to life in which we let go of our battles. When we step out of the battle, we see anew. We see how our minds create conflict. We see our constant likes and dislikes, the fight to resist all that frightens us. We see our own prejudice, greed, and territoriality. All this is hard for us to look at, but it is really there. And underneath these ongoing battles, we see our feelings of insecurity, incompleteness and fear. Taking a breath, establishing a moment of mindful loving awareness, we can see how often our struggle with life has kept our heart closed.
With mindfulness and compassion we can let go of our battles and open our heart with kindness to things just as they are. Then we come to rest in the present moment.
This is the beginning and the end of spiritual practice. Only in the present moment can we discover that which is timeless. Only here can we find the love that we seek.
mystery. unraveled. forgetting. arising.
inquiry for today~ and how many times have you left and returned?
Thee key to the mindful approach is what’s typically call “disidentification.”This is the moment of recognition that we are not our thoughts or emotions. We go from “This is my thought or emotion that I’m entirely caught in,” to “This thought is moving through me.” “My thought” becomes “the thought.” “Being the thought” is now “being with the thought.” This way we become disentangled from our painful thoughts and feelings, but we still have them. We’re not trying to use mindfulness to become mindful zombies with no affect. With disidentification, we are present with and fully embodying our experience. Yet we have some space, some witnessing, and I daresay, some freedom.