Today’s dangerous and unseasonable snowstorm took our morning contemplation to explore the arising of disasters, crises and great losses in our lives. We reflected on what we experience in these moments and how often we wish to be spared from such extraordinary events. There is a clear physicality about these experiences. We often express our response in the breath, in body tension and tears or (surprisingly) laughter.
Although no one would wish for disastrous events or great losses, we all recognized that such experiences call us to reach deep into our resources to respond. We push ourselves to protect ourselves, to serve those we love or to be responsible citizens. In doing so, not only do we recognize capacities and strengths we might have missed, but we also refine and sharpen those skills and sensitivities. Each crisis prepares us to respond to the next one.
This is not universally true. It is clear that humans have their limits and repeated, extreme crisis response becomes what we know as trauma. Such experiences over-tax our capacities and damage our abilities and bodies.
Our practice activity, especially sitting mindfulness is too often construed as merely stress management or relaxation and we mistakenly shy away from experiencing or penetrating difficulties. This will stunt our practice maturity, which thrives on bringing attention to whatever arises in the space of body-mind-environment.
Yours in the Dharma,
om namo amida butsu
Read this week’s Ask the Religion Experts column here