“Simply Begin Again” *
(This blog is a retread from February, 2017)
The expectations we hold for ourselves in relationship to our spiritual practices are at times stringent, tight, and perhaps unforgiving. Possibly there isn’t much fluidity or flex to draw upon to support our own comfort and realignment. Any iteration of self-judgment cannot be helpful in realigning our focus back to practice. These profound words by Jack Kornfield, the master meditation teacher, speak it all: “Simply begin again”.
Imagine you are driving your car from New York to San Francisco and your car breaks down in Chicago. You don’t ship your car back to New York, repair it and begin the journey again. Of course not. You fix the car in Chicago and keep heading west.
I have found solace in this simplistic and uncomplicated frame of spiritual practice. What if there is no “off the path”? What if there really are no errors? Although I’ve come a long way in dismantling my perfectionism in relationship to my practices, I still can easily slip into the default of “I should be past this”.
Norman Fisher, Zen master from the West Coast, writes inspiringly on this subject, infusing the idea of practice with a sense of ongoing momentum that no lapse can interrupt. Here are some of his thoughts:
“In spiritual practice, there are no breaks and no mistakes. You may think that you have lost the thread of your practice, you may feel bad about it…..but this is not what you think. Once you begin practice, you always keep going, because everything is practice, even the days or weeks or lifetimes that we forget to meditate. It’s impossible to be lost. You are constantly being found, whether you know it or not.”
I find this riveting and empowering. Please do not hear any syllable of this blog as an invitation into relapse or hurtful self-behavior. The possibility in this reframe is kindness and compassion which can allow us to realign with right action quicker and with more ease. This can a powerful benefit.
We are constantly being found, especially when we don’t know it. Here are some considerations for your hearts today, for your pondering or journaling pleasure:
- What does it mean to you “to be (constantly) found”?
- If that might be true, what would be freed up inside of you? What might be different?
- What is one thing you can do this week, to practice repairing your car where it is, and moving easefully and lovingly forward?
Rumi, the ecstatic Persian poet of the 13th century, offers us this powerful and similar reminder. Let’s savor these words, wrap his blessing around us, as we move forward into this new gift of a week:
“…..ours is not
a caravan of despair.
Whether you’ve broken your vows
a hundred times,
the door is round and open.”
And now, dear friends, we practice. May your week be filled with the ease and grace. May we be blessed with the willingness to practice.
*words of Jack Kornfield