Barely two days have gone by since I sang in praise of obstacles: how important they are in helping us see reality, how they are not in the way but are the way itself, etc. Bring them on, I crowed, they’re are the stuff of authentic living. Yeah!
Work at hospice has become the most meaningful and rewarding practice as it continues to open my heart in ways I could never have imagined. Yesterday I learned that my tenure is at risk and may come to an end in a few weeks. Without skipping a beat, the mind switched from relief to self-doubt, from freedom to blaming. Once more, everything’s in turmoil or, more accurately, all the mind perceives is turmoil.
Ezra Bayda, a Zen teacher I’ve never met but whose writing shows up when I need it most, speaks directly to my panicked self:
Practicing with our daily life on this level is particularly difficult when the mind is reeling with self-doubt and confusion. At such times, how do we return the heart that seeks to awaken? When everything seems dark and unworkable, when our aspiration has grown dim, one thing we can always do is to take a deep breath into the center of the chest, and on the out-breath extend to ourselves the same warmth and compassion we would extend to a loved one in duress.
Such advice takes me away from the thinking-brain, the one that is so quick to create scenarios of fear … and return my attention to this body. It alerts me to an instinctual habit of abandoning my/self in times of crisis and reminds me of the capacity for self-healing that resides within.
source: Bayda, E. (2009). Zen heart: simple advice for living with mindfulness and compassion. Boston: Shambala, p. 59. image: motivatedentrepreneur.com