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Curiosity and Care

How you care for the least of things is how you care for the greatest of things.

Adyashanti

There is simplicity and a depth to the above words. It brings to a level playing field the things that appear to be small or unimportant, with those things that appear to be bigger and significant. How I meet the person checking me out in the grocery aisle might plant seeds for how I meet my daughter at school pick-up. The way in which I drink my morning coffee or tea might influence how I show up to meditation class later in the day. The scenarios are endless, but the essential inquiry remains. Am I rushing past moments? Am I always preparing and planning for something in the future? Am I disregarding things or people now, thinking they are not relevant or important? Am I constantly quick to judge and react, or is there space for me to include and attend? It is not about perfection in what we do, nor is it about attending to everything in our field, all the time. That would be exhausting and depleting. Instead it is about the care and attention we offer to the things that come along our way, as we feel available and replenished to do so.

In a meditation practice, we often take time to attend to the simple and the ordinary; a gentle curiosity towards sounds, sight, scent, taste and touch. Slowly we rest and open with the same interest to the field of our body, sensations, breath and vibrations. These are the more simple aspects of our experience, because often they are covered over by the mind’s interpretations, likes, dislikes, and stories. This curiosity has an open, soft quality to it. It does not assume, but instead feels and listens. It is alert, though not directive.

The more we open to the simple things with care and attention, the more likely we will open to the moments that are more complex and beyond the ordinary in the same way. Beyond the sensations and breath, there is the potential that I might meet the many emotions, such as joy and melancholy, peace and agitation, with curiosity. I might meet the homeless person as I meet my neighbor. I might meet the agreeable person as I meet the one who is disagreeable. And when I am not able, I might meet the emotion or edginess arising in me with care and interest. In this way, everything in life is connected. Indeed, the way I care for the least of things is the way I care for the greatest of things. In truth no one moment or thing is more important than the other. This is not something the mind can grasp because the mind by nature divides. This truth is known through the heart, and my heartfelt wish is that I may remember the significance, connectedness and divine essence across the many people and things that come upon my path.

 

Judgement vs Right Perception

Today I had an interesting conversation with students around the idea of judgement and acceptance. The conversation evoked inquiry, and ultimately a renewed clarity for me, and I hope for others as well.

In spiritual communities, judgement is sometimes misperceived as bad, especially in light of ideas like acceptance and kindness. However, judgements are neither good nor bad. They are simply a facet of the thinking mind. They may have some information to relay, often about the person judging, rather than the object or person that is being judged. If we allow it to be, without suppressing or reacting from it, we can come into greater clarity and alignment with life. This allowing is the essence of accepting.

Acceptance does not mean we submit to life all the time, nor that we tolerate disrespect or abuse. It simply means that in this moment, I surrender to what is. This surrendering is not one of resignation. It is alert and awake. It is feeling and sensing. Through this, there is the potential to come into clear relationship with life. In time, we may open into ‘right’ perception, ‘right’ words, and even ‘right’ action when Life is calling for it.

My use of ‘right’ has no opposite. This ‘right’ does not make anyone or any other opinion wrong. It simply states what feels true; what brings me into alignment and harmony with life. When this truth calls for us to say ‘no’ to something, as Eckhart Tolle describes, it will be a “high quality no” that is free of all reactivity. “Without egoic defensiveness, there will be power behind your words, yet no reactivity.” (A New Earth, pg. 216) This ‘right’ also has no good or bad. In fact, what feels right might be very uncomfortable to navigate at times.

A little more often now, I can discern ‘right’ perception from judgement. Judgement often has a charge to it, an edginess, a sense of inferiority or superiority. The words and action that stem from judgement are less than skillful, sometimes hurtful, and I have had my fair share. ‘Right’ perception on the other hand feels clear and even strong at times, yet it has a calm, grounded and open quality to it. Generally it does not arise through thinking, instead it emerges from the vast, open, wise ground of Being.

In Peace,
Sheila

An iRest Yoga Nidra Rest-Shop

The new year is a beautiful time to slow down, restore and rest in the depths of one’s heart. In this rest-shop at Dharma Yoga Austin, I will offer a gentle practice, including breathing, gentle embodied movements and iRest Yoga Nidra. We will close by planting seeds of inquiry so that when the answers appear, we may hear – what (way of Being) is most calling us into the year that can guide how we show up for ourselves and others, and where we engage.

Their will be no agenda, other than for this to be a safe space for you to meet the truth and wisdom within you.

No experience required, simply your curiosity.
January 26th 4-6pm
Registerhttp://dharma-yoga.net/workshops/

** iRest Yoga Nidra is a healing practice of guided meditation/rest.  Please click on this link for more information.  

Yoga Nidra with Sheila Singh jpeg

Teacher and Sangha

Today a dear student pondered, “Sometimes I wonder why I pay to attend a class where I come to rest”.

She paused for some moments and then shared.

“Community.  I have experienced the importance of sangha”.

She shared that she appreciates sitting with like-minded (hearted) people who aspire to meet themselves in a sincere and profound way.  The support in the room is palpable for her. When her curiosity fades or her attention ruminates, the collective energy of the group catches her and brings her back.  She said that there is something unique about group energy that she does not feel at home.  It strengthens her intention for practice, and she connects to a shared experience, something beyond herself.

A large part of meditation practice is in meeting the workings of the ego.  Ego, as I use it here, is the collective pattern of thinking and perceptions that we take ourselves to be.  This student also described that being able to surrender to the guidance of a trusted teacher helps her ego personality to rest.  She no longer needs to be the one leading, planning and doing.  Instead she can listen and feel her way back to what she “naturally” is and has been.  These last words were beautiful, pointing to something beyond her ego and her person-ness; what many describe as spirit, being, presence, wholeness.

The dialogue continued for some time, and I listened as she uncovered her own answers.  It was sweet to witness.


It is essential that teachers entrusted in these kind of spaces do their own work/practice; that they check their humanity and ego often so that space is held with integrity and clarity.  While the ego can at times make it complicated, the teacher’s work is simple; to point the students back to themselves.

Alongside community, one’s home practice is also important so that practice continues even when circumstances change, as they will.  Most of my practice happens at home, in solitude or amidst my family for now.  And I look forward to retreating with two of my teachers in the new year; being held and guided, ego checked in and heart open.

 

 

An Unexpected Encounter.

I haven’t written for some time.  Writing happens when writing happens.

Today I was walking through my neighborhood Randall’s to get a few items.  I meandered through the aisles with my short list on repeat in my head so that I would not forget.  All of sudden, my eyes fell upon a lady.  She appeared to be in her late 50’s, though truly I don’t know.  More than just the eyes, my whole body was moved by her appearance; a nervous fluttering, and breathing that spontaneously felt heavy.  I walked past her calmly, though my body experienced the opposite.

The following description may be too graphic for some, though I will share it because it was what I saw. 

She had two black and blue eyes, a nose that was swollen and crusted with a significant amount of visible blood.  Her demeanor appeared fragile, though that might have been my own projection.  She was on the phone as I saw her.

I headed to the check out, though my heart felt as if it had stopped in the aisle with the lady.  My heart felt uncomfortably concerned.  Even while I was paying for my groceries, I kept glancing back to where I saw the lady.  Was she still there?  Should I just leave and go on about my evening?  Should I go back and ask her if she is ok or if she needed anything?  Would she tell me even if she needed help?  What would I do if she said yes?

As I grabbed my grocery bag, I turned my head back one more time.  She was still there on the phone.  My legs started walking toward her even while my head continued with its questions.  As I got closer, she was no longer on her phone.

I stood in front of her and looked gently into her eyes.  I asked, “Excuse me, I hope it is ok for me to ask this, are you ok?  Is there anything you need?”.  She looked at me and very quickly said, “Oh thank you, I am ok.  I just fell.  I broke my ribs”.  I had no idea of broken ribs from the surface of her appearance.  “I am just coming from the doctor’s office and he fixed my nose”.  There was a brief pause.  I said, “Ok, I saw you and felt concerned. I wanted to check if you were ok or needed help of any kind”.  Our eyes still meeting, we smiled gently at one another.  I walked out of Randall’s to my car and back home to my family.

Perhaps what she said was true and perhaps it was not.  I wondered, “Would a doctor really let her leave their office without a bandage of some kind?”.  I guess I won’t know for sure.  My gut still felt concerned for her.  

I went back to the safety of my home and my family.  My hope is that this lady is safe and heals.  I will have to be ok with at least letting her know that I saw her and that I offered concern and care, even if for a moment.

 

***  I don’t know that I would have had the courage to walk back to this lady had I not taken SAFE’s advocate training this past year.  I am deeply thankful for those that do this important work daily.