Meditation & Mindfulness

You Are Drunk and this is the Edge of the Roof

edge of the roof

I’m going to share a skill that a child can learn in just a few minutes. But even though it’s a very simple to learn, it takes a lifetime to master. First, a story.

I’m usually a light sleeper. But a few months ago, in the middle of the night, my wife had to shake me awake. “David, I’m scared,” she said. “What’s happened now?” I asked. For the past three nights we’d been kept awake by our neighbour, Kendrick*. He’d been banging the walls with what sounded like a hammer. He’d been having a midnight bonfire in his garden, burning furniture that he threw out of the window. He’d been playing booming music. And he’d been wandering the streets outside our house with a large knife in his hand. Kendrick was a drug addict, and we’d been having a merry time of it.

5 Ways to Be Present This Summer

be present

It seems to be this way every year—one morning I wake up and it’s suddenly summer. Everything seems once again alive and moving. I’m relieved for the sunshine and the cleansing rain of an afternoon thunderstorm.

As I was walking my dog this morning it occurred to me that, as much as I think I’m enjoying the summer, I haven’t really been taking advantage of it the way I should be. I haven’t been embracing the moment. I still find myself inside participating in activities much more suited to the winter months—watching movies, baking, spending hours on the computer. It’s not that these things don’t have value, but it’s time for me to stop thinking about the beauty of summer and start actually enjoying it. Here’s what I’m going to do to start being present this summer:

Right Rejection and Happy Acceptance

Buddha

Once upon a time, Buddha, with his monk disciples, stopped by a village. His intentions were to deliver sermons and spread the message of righteousness and liberation. Some of the villagers however did not receive him well. They called him an atheist, used abusive language and asked him to leave the village. Buddha, however, remained quiet and peaceful as ever. He did not respond to any of the verbal abuse. His face expression did not change.

His disciples could not bear their master being abused, they could not see him treated that way. They felt bad and hurt. Taking cue from their master, they chose to stay quiet however.

The disgruntled villagers left after a while. Peace ensued. Only Buddha and his disciples were left there.

Nothing Lasts, But Suffering Makes It Worse

The Buddha spoke of impermanence, that nothing lasts, and that failing to understand the real nature of impermanence means suffering. Most of us would agree that impermanence, or change, is a fact of life. If I ask if the weather, a river, or a mountain will always be the same, most will say no. If I ask if we as individuals will never change, again most will say no.

But here is the rub. Our sensitivity to impermanence shows up in our attachments to wishing for the world to be other than it is, unchanging. We exist in a conflicted state where intellectually we understand that everything changes, and all things good or bad pass away, but emotionally we hold onto the things we like and push away the things we do not like. This creates suffering as we are buffeted back and forth by the winds of change, experiencing emotional turmoil as we try mightily to hold onto this and get rid of that, all to no avail.

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