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Be Real. Buddhism for every body… musings from Wanderlust…

August 26, 2014
buddha plantBuddhism offers so much freedom because there is no one path to follow.
You question what you have learned and you strip away what you dare to.
Buddhism is scary as hell because there is no one path to follow.
You question what you have learned and you strip away what you dare to.
Sigh, here we go again.
 
Upon returning from a week of yoga with amazing yogis at Wanderlust in Whistler, I thought long and hard about the bright and joyful chaos of it all and realized there was a lacking representation of Buddhist philosophy…. what I would have given for a teacher preaching “there is no perfect way to enlightenment! forget all that you think you know! practice however you want to!”
 
The end of Wanderlust also marked my participation in a new series on how to touch enlightenment simply with our bodies –an insightful workshop explaining how basic embodied aspects of Buddhism have been lost over the millennia. This course had come at the perfect time when I left Wanderlust saturated with many offerings and inspiration yet without a clear direction on what the next steps in my spiritual journey should be. This uncertainty and unknowing is always a ripe place to further contemplate finding peace in the present moment, rather than grasping into the abyss of the future. The place to find peace is not in overthinking, but within my unique body.
 
Buddhism is so radical and yet so rational. I am continually confused and frustrated by the  heady philosophy. With the mind blowing foundation of ‘all beings suffer’  and ‘concepts created by humans are not reality’, it then emphasizes cultivating compassion for other beings. No wonder some find it a depressing and challenging theology to embody.
On the other hand – Buddhism is just being real. Yes, there is suffering and sadness around and within us. Yes, we must take a hard look into our worlds, re-evaluate our beliefs and perhaps throw them out the window. And what we might find is perhaps too real: THE PATH IS DIFFERENT FOR EVERYONE. Your practice is whatever you want it to be. You call the shots on how you will release your attachments to your past to get present in your body. Your unique self dictates whether you will pray, study or exercise and it’s perfect so long as it takes you closer to kindness, to the moment you are in and to a place of non-attachment. 
 
My unique practice spirals in the following cycle:
I will slip into habitual thoughts of “I’m not good enough, I’m not thin enough, I’m not strong enough, I’m not successful enough” and take a trip down the rabbit hole into gloom and doom. I question and judge all that I think I am.
At a certain point, I decide to lie down on my back to breathe, or I use some means to connect to my body, this vessel of wisdom and strength that I have had a lifelong love affair with, and it all shifts. I transform. I become something closer to peace. I remember that I only have control over my body and my current thoughts. I become freedom and relief. I might call this Buddhism, or Yoga, or Church. 
The beauty of getting lost within myself and exploring how to relax and let go will feel poetic and surreal. I will feel totally healed from the darkness and will have gained wonderful insights on how to get out of it more quickly next time. 
And then back into the hole I go.
 
As a student who now guides others through all these storms, I can see the angst of practitioners trying to carve out a unique path while teetering on the verge of a big understanding—they are feeling things in their bodies as never before, they are writing new stories in their tissue and in their hearts…. And it comes out of them as it does. Sometimes unaware, sometimes hyper sensitive, sometimes all-knowing.
 
The varying reactions and emotions to being in this internal battle between habit and presence are wonderfully real and important to going further within. We unfortunately compartmentalize those around us or label and over explain everything. But if we sit back and thankfully observe that no one can dictate how the individual path ought to look, that we can simply be in process and in honest transition, then to me, that moment is enlightenment. We make our process and the goal of enlightenment such a big deal. But it’s just life. It’s a gift to be alive for this short while and lately part of my rabbit hole is how devastating I feel to be wasting years in the same thoughts and insecurities. I want to be here for this small time and not in my tiny head.  When I take the time to shift out of my dark and repetitive thoughts and re-connect to my physical body – I also feel more connected to others around me and the truth that we are all on this journey supported and together, whatever form our practices/rituals take.
 
As I reflected upon the sheer excitement of each teacher at Wanderlust offering their own perspective towards personal transformation and an embodied presence on this earth, I saw in a new light that the whole festival was a truly inclusive Buddhist bash. With so many paths and so many offerings to soak up – I instinctively retreated from it all and went deep within to find out what was best for me. I let myself feel awed and overwhelmed by all the inspiring teachers. I reevaluated my insecurities and doubts about my personal journey and my offerings as a teacher. It all led me within. To the unknown. To another sigh of realizing – yes this is just life. This is another moment to be brave. To step out and question. Some days I jogged. Some days I sat beside my companion the river with my breath. Some days I did yoga with a goofy wide grin.
Many paths lead me inside.
I am here for yours. And I vow to remain here for whatever is mine.
 

Buddhism also asserts that the spiritual journey is unique to each individual. Therefore, of course, it cannot be held, circumscribed, limited, or even ultimately judged by any institution, tradition, or external authority. The unique journey that lies before us does not exist in any text, external person, or religion. In fact, it does not yet exist at all, but only lies ahead of us, to be discovered literally as we go. Thus it is that the spiritual journey cannot in any way be preconceived or pre- determined; it is not humanly constructed or fabricated. The journey to ourselves is truly a journey into the unknown, a setting forth onto a sea that has never before been sailed and never before been fathomed or mapped.

(Reggie Ray)

 

so much goodness.. and growth.. with music

August 8, 2014

Grow ……. Enjoy in its entirety HERE

dance

1 – All That You Give – The Cinematic Orchestra

2 – Hold On (feat Sampha) – SBTRKT

3 – To Describe You – Kungs & Mozambo

4 – Left & Right – D’Angelo

5 – Say You’ll Be There – MO

6 – Coffee – Sylvan Esso

7 – The Girl from Impanema – Sergio Mendez

8 – Our Love Comes Back – James Blake

 

from the forest to one’s body: the changing landscape of spiritual practice

August 7, 2014

forestIn the Buddhist past, when questions have arisen about the authenticity of institutionalized, conventionalized Buddhist organizations, politics, beliefs, and practices, practitioners have retired into the “forest” (sktî, vana, aranya), the classical term for the uninhabited jungles of India. The “forest” was regarded as a place beyond the reach of conventional culture and institutionalized Buddhism, a place where the atmosphere was open and unobstructed.

Within Indian culture, the forest was considered the ideal place for spiritual practice because, in the forest, there are no rules and there are no presiding authorities. The only authority is the chaos of the forest itself. The only rule is what awaits there for each practitioner, uniquely, to discover. Memories of the past and plans for the future, the psychic infrastructure of civilization, do not apply: they have no bearing and they have no footing. The forest is about something else. In the forest, there is only the ever- present possibility of events, encounters, and insights that emerge directly from reality itself, pure and unpolluted by human wants, expectations, and attitudes. Uniquely in the forest, the most radical of all human journeys can take place, one which brings us into direct contact with primordial being.

Increasingly in this world of ours, there is no longer any geographical forest for us practitioners to retire to…the true forest is quickly disappearing, perhaps forever, from our world.

But there is a new wilderness, a new unknown and limitless territory, a new terrain of chaos, that calls us. It is a territory that has not been, and cannot be, colonized and domesticated by human ambition and greed, that in its true extent cannot be mapped by human logic at all. This is the “forest” of the human body. The body is now, I believe, our forest, our jungle, the “outlandish” expanse in which we are invited to let go of everything we think, allow ourselves to be stripped down to our most irreducible person, to die in every experiential sense possible and see what, if anything, remains.

(R Ray)

 

no-thingness contains every possibility..

August 6, 2014

the beauty and space inherent in no-thingness and emptiness as described by osho…   continue the practice of not knowing..

‘Being “in the gap” can be disorienting and even scary. Nothing to hold on to, no sense of direction, not even a hint of what choices and possibilities might lie ahead. But it was just this state of pure potential that existed before the universe was created. All you can do now is to relax into this no-thingness … fall into this silence between the words … watch this gap between the outgoing and incoming breath. And treasure each empty moment of the experience. 

Something sacred is about to be born.’ 

save

wholeness: knowing myself, knowing us..

July 23, 2014
 
              Look within, you are the world.          
                                (Krishnamurti)10431347_1423611417920041_9217955635912986265_o
 
“We need to be intimate with our own interior, to know our needs, wishes, fears, boundaries and hopes. Through knowing the self within, we can honour the self that lives within another. We need to be able to love our own self enough to offer it openly to someone else.
As we reflect upon ourselves, we integrate more and more the essential pieces of ourselves. Our sense of the whole becomes stronger and stronger, we gain stability and beauty as more and more parts become integrated. 
As we become more integrated, we become more relational. Our capacity for understanding and working with outer relationships is enhanced by the sophistication of our inner one. 
We begin to see our role within all the complex relationships around us and can bring balance to the larger components of our culture.”
(A. Judith)
 

learning languages…

July 18, 2014
namaste. forget about pronunciation, but what does it mean and do i have to say it?
I love this interpretation and whether or not you choose to use the word itself, its meaning is a simple prayer to keep in your heart.
 
 
Namaste

 

and the group process..

July 14, 2014
Dear Tribe,   I am not ready to compile a coherent letter to us all just yet… thus, below are a  few thoughts and perceptions on being in group and our unfolding together… it was not always clear or sensical or even-keeled, but the work we did was life changing. So much love to us! We need it! 
 
‘We all begin the process before we are ready, before we are strong enough, before we know enough; we begin a dialogue with thoughts and feelings that both tickle and thunder within us. We respond before we know how to speak the language, before we know all the answers, and before we know exactly to whom we are speaking.’
(C Pinkola Estes)
 
group
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