The Sustaining Power of Mindfulness
from a talk by Cheri Maples
The understandings, openings, and sense of vastness created by a mindfulness practice happen in different ways for different people. When I think about my own painfully slow transformation from an angry, cynical, alcoholic cop, with the armor of a closed heart, to where I am now, I immediately fall into a space of gratitude. Slowly my mindfulness practice has brought about a sense of balance, acceptance, and equanimity; and, more importantly, an ability to be present to myself and others.
Regardless of whether we are on the fast train [to enlightenment] and experience instant epiphanies, or like me are on the slow train, we eventually have to learn how to consistently give our “laundry” a bath of mindfulness. The first ingredient of that bath is acceptance. No matter how much we want it to be otherwise, the truth is that we are not in control of the unfolding of our experiences.
The spirit is one of integration, of using our daily circumstances to wake up so we can fully experience the nature of life: taste its divinity, its holiness, and its birthless/deathless nature. We eventually learn about relaxing with hopelessness, relaxing with grief, with death. As we practice this surrender, we understand that whatever occurs in our life, no matter how wonderful or how painful, it is the path.
The unique beauty and kindness of the practice is that it does not demand that we experience anything other than what we experience. In other words, every moment is simply an opportunity to be with whatever comes up – in whatever form it shows up.
The point is that redemption does not lie in the outer circumstances of your life, or in the future when a “better” you will magically emerge. Redemption lies in the present moment. Sometimes we delude ourselves into thinking we are sacrificing the present moment in order to live a …more meaningful life in the future. Alternatively, we may sacrifice the present moment to the past, but the past makes no difference in the present moment.
When we spend our time in this way, two things happen: we miss the opportunity the present moment gives us and we add a second and unnecessary layer of suffering to the first layer. The first layer of dukha is simply the result of what is. The second layer is what we often add to it by self-blame or other negative habit energies.
The beginning of freedom is the realization that we are not our thoughts. Mindfulness is a fearless proclamation about what is possible for all of us as ordinary people. As we learn to be aware of what we do, what we are in each moment, we recognize how energy follows thought. Internalizing this understanding, we can participate in our own resurrection and be co-creators with whatever force larger than ourselves that we take refuge in.
SnowFlower Summer Monastic Retreat “Harmony in our home, Joy in our world” led by four monastics from Blue Cliff Monastery.
- June 29 and 30, 2019 at the Goodman Community Center
- Click here for more information and to Register
Children’s Program, Tuesday May 21, 6:30 – 7:25 at Friends Meetinghouse
Plano Retreat hosted by Lakeside Sangha. “In Deep Gratitude: Celebrating the Teachintgs of the Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh”. Friday, May 3-Sunday, May 5. Facilitated by Dharma teachers Jack and Laurie Lawlor. $199 per person. SnowFlower scholarships available.
Enjoy a delicious cup of tea and conversation with SnowFlowers, Tuesday 6:00 – 6:50pm – Friends Meetinghouse.
Tea with Susan Pearsall
Quiet Conversation and Turkish Tea in Susan’s home. Contact Susan at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday and Friday Sangha Meetings
The Friends Meetinghouse, 1704 Roberts Court, Madison, WI. 7:00 – 8:30pm.
Wednesday Daytime Sangha Meetings
Locations Rotate, 1:30-3:00 pm – Refer to Wednesday listsrv emails for location information and updates. For more info, email email@example.com
Sunday Morning Sangha Meetings
Locations Rotate, 10:00 – 11:30 am. Refer to Sunday listserv emails for location and topic. For more info, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
SnowFlower Sangha Mentoring Program
It is natural that newcomers to the practice may have questions. A mentoring relationship supports a newer practitioner by clarifying matters of personal practice and sangha practice. The logistics are up to the mentor and mentee. If interested, contact Susan Pearsall at email@example.com
Join the SnowFlower Email Listserv
Send an empty email to firstname.lastname@example.org