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Buddhadharma : Fall 2013
16 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY FALL 2 0 1 3 The stress we carry with us through our days can feel like a heavy burden that can only be released on vacations or during long weekends, but this is not the case. Each day there are countless moments that could serve as doorways to the serene and tranquil. And while our momentum and stories of what must be accomplished might have us fly past these outlets, they are there: during the early shower, the commute to work, the walk to pick up lunch, amid the moments before a conversation, and in the course of a break to get some fresh air. These interludes are analogous to the “power-ups” in video games that don’t add points to one’s score but offer revived abilities that allow us to get through the race. A time out provides us with an opportunity to release the tension that makes the game so difficult to navigate: we check in with the stomach and shoulders, the jaw and forehead, survey- ing the body and discerning what needs to be softened. We can visit the breath and note if the exhalations are being cut short, a sure sign of busyness and agitation; simply extending the length of an out breath presents a major shortcut to inner ease. We can even become aware of the mind outside of its thoughts: Is it spacious or claustrophobic? Are we so caught up in routines that we’ve lost track of sounds and smell, contact sensations with the chair and floor beneath us? It’s tempting to dismiss this break for an inner reprieve as a lesser priority than getting through the game, scoring points via people pleasing, and monetary gain. After all, we’ve been conditioned to achieve and accumulate. But in turning inward we can open the door not only to greater ease but also to a fresh perspective: the game is only a game; time is passing and leading to a time in life where it will no longer matter. It’s nowhere near as important as it appears when we’re caught up in it. FROM DHARMAPUNXNYC.BLOGSPOT.CA, JULY 11, 2013 Seekers after the truth are schooled in adver- sity. When they are confronted by a hin- drance, they can’t be overcome. Then, cutting free, their treasure is great. FROM PRIMARY POINT, SPRING 2013. REPRINTED FROM THOUSAND PEAKS BY MU SOENG (REVISED EDITION, PRIMARY POINT PRESS) POWER UP YOUR LIFE With the simple practice of mindfulness, we can revive our body and mind, says Dharmapunx teacher Josh Korda. A busy life can be experienced as an addic- tive video game, comprising the twisty route from a morning coffee to the time we return home and close the door on the world and its demands. The circuit is strewn with pleasant opportunities (friendly conversations that we navigate toward) and unpleasant roadblocks (impossible characters with impractical dead- lines) that we try to avoid. Caught up in the game, our frustrations and disappointments are stifled so we can keep moving. We lose track of how these blocked emotions translate into stress carried in the body. Our external fixation and continual thoughts relegate the body to the corners of awareness; the tension that lies beneath our attention spans often remains unnoticed. Yet these physically stored emotions play a greater role in the course of our days than we expect: they create the pressure that lies beneath a sudden verbal outburst; the urgency behind the rash decision; the constriction that leads to sudden backaches; the tightness and strain that fuels addictive behaviors, such as binge shopping and compulsive eating.