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Buddhadharma : Summer 2015
summer 2 0 1 5 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 13 It was an act of faith, but I kept her. I gave her the water and light she liked and put her by another cyclamen that was healthy and blooming to encourage her. Eventually, after many months, another tiny leaf emerged. I was delighted. Then another came, and another. She was coming back, slowly. Now a year and a half later, she is filled with many beautiful leaves and her first blossom is emerging. Seeing her come full cycle has been a joy. Watching the growth, decline, and ree- mergence of this cyclamen over the past twenty months has reminded me of some of the cycles of practice. There are times when we feel in the zone, on top of the world, when insights are happening at a great rate. Then there are times when we feel like everything is just humming along, full, good, and healthy, but without any great changes, challenges, or new insights occur- ring. Other times, when we let go of so much—our values, ideas, and relationships that no longer serve—we feel like everything is dying. For me, these times have often been accompanied by healing crises where my health was severely compromised. These are times of loss and great uncertainty, not knowing what will come next. We can feel groundless, not able to define who we are. Before we learn to relax into this groundlessness, the most common experi- ence is profound disorganization and fear. Our modern world worships birth and growth and despises death and decline. It is hard to go against the culturally embed- ded tide and find faith, patience, and con- fidence in our practice when nothing much seems to be happening. When our practice seems bleak, barren, and hopeless, we can be tempted to throw it out, to give up com- pletely. At these times, it is important to remember that faith isn’t supported only by what is seen but by reflecting on the potential that is often unseen. Just as with the cyclamen, a lot lies dormant under the surface. FROM awakening tRuth NEWSLETTER, APRIL 2015 don’t think you’re really meditating? It doesn’t matter if you’re lost in thought, says Chögyam Trungpa. If you’re on the cushion, you’re practicing. When you meditate, you actually are medi- tating even when you think you’re not. You have no choice, in fact. In your mind you may be miles away from your meditation cushion, but you’re still sitting there. There is still communication between your body and your mind. It might seem like a schizo- phrenic level of communication to be aware of both the irritations of your body and your distant thoughts. However, you are having a real experience of life, a real experience of reality, whether you like it or not. There is some magic, if you’d like to put it that way, some force of life that takes place. It doesn’t matter whether you have an enor- mous pornographic show going on in your mind or whether you are having a delicious mental meal miles from the meditation hall. In actual fact, you are still sitting on your meditation cushion or in your chair. If you check in with yourself, you’ll realize this. FROM Mindfulness in action, ShAMBhALA PuBLICATIONS 2015