I close each meditation with a practice I’ve crafted over the years — with hands to the heart in gassho and a prayer of reflection:
“To honor and acknowledge ourselves and our commitment to self-understanding and well-being.
To honor and acknowledge the practice itself as it reminds us to listen deeply, see clearly and respond skillfully to what arises as it arises.
And, to honor and acknowledge one another for collectively generating the energy of mindfulness, compassion and understanding.”
Today, nowhere near the cushion, I call on this same affirmation to re-center me after a momentary family crisis. Even when others do not share my practice or draw upon similar skills in the face of madness, I honor how being a compassionate witness to their actions can help bring me back to mine.
Exploded and firefighters are two words you don’t want to hear from an unfamiliar caller, informing you that your mother needs you to come over to the house immediately.
Already in the car, heading in the opposite direction, with my husband thankfully behind the wheel. My first response was not to panic but to pause and assess. In reflection, I recognize: This is my brain on mindfulness.
And let me say right now that mindfulness is not a quick fix tool that I acquired after some 6-8 week stress reduction workshop. It is the result of 10-plus years as a dharma practitioner with feet grounded firmly on the Zen path and a lifetime of exploring contemplative spiritual and wellness practices that have helped recalibrate my fiery temperament “to be more able more often” to generate skillful responses.
I’ll be straight up: it doesn’t “work” all the time…
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