SnowFlower Sun January 2023

Our Body Doesn’t Lie

a dharma talk by Lisa Gleuck

Early on, I’d sit on my zafu and soar freely through space. (At least on a good day.) Lovely wordlessness: no boundaries, no worries, and no stress.  The trouble was, I’d have to get off the cushion, do the dishes, get the kids off to school, complain to my spouse, and go to work. The disconnect was brutal. Who wants to deal with all that messy stuff? I was practicing meditation to transcend worldly suffering.

Years later, it finally dawned on me: I must relate to my actual body. How unpleasant. The Buddha expected me to pay attention to my churning stomach, tight chest, and clenched shoulders. Not as obstacles destroying my peace, but as doorways into true practice. As Jack Kornfield said, “We’re not looking for an out-of-the-body experience. We’re looking for an in-the-body experience.”

The inconvenient truth? There’s no way around our pain. We must go directly through it. If we run, it’ll lie in wait, preparing an ambush.

Now, some pain is caused by bodily injury or disease. We go to the doctor, or an alternative practitioner to seek help. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes we must learn to live with chronic pain. (Life sucks.)

But most of our pain is psychological–caused by our reaction to stress. This pain can be our greatest teacher; uncompromising. What’s this pain trying to say? It’s informing us that we’re off base—entertaining unwholesome mental formations. If we won’t listen to the subtle messages, it’s going to tighten the vise until we’re forced to stop and pay attention.

The good news? The Buddha laid out a plan. Taught us how to work with our wily thoughts and feelings. All we must do is overcome our skepticism and give it a try. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.


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Tuesday Night Sit:  Time: 07:00 PM

Meet in person at the Friends Meeting House at 1704 Roberts Court (two blocks north of Trader Joe’s and a block west of Monroe St.). When the community level of covid-19 in Dane County is “low,” wearing masks is optional. Please do not attend if you have any symptoms of illness. You can also join via Zoom.

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