First published in October 2011, Elephant Spirituality gives it a second airing…
I encourage you to take a chance: put practice at the top of the list…
“Sometimes people say, “Well, you know, I don’t really meditate. That’s not my thing.” Well, is your thing to be yourself? Is your thing to discover the depths of your own being? Is your thing to open your eyes to the beauty of life? Well, then you’re a meditator, because that’s all meditation is. It’s being willing to sit down and stop watching television, so to speak. To be willing to sit down and put the Time Magazine over on the shelf or the Utne Reader or whatever your thing is. To be willing to be alone, to be willing to give your own state of being room to show itself…
Many, many people tell me “I’m having a lot of problems doing this [meditation] practice because I am so busy. I’m really busy. I have a full life. It’s busy and I run from morning ‘til night.” People actually say that.
Now think about that for a minute. What kind of life is that? Is that a life worth living? Some people feel it is. America is probably the most extreme example of a speed-driven culture—and this is not my particular personal discovery, but something that has been said to me by many people from other traditional cultures. The first time this was said to me was when I was 19 and I went to Japan. Western people are running from themselves and they use the busy-ness of their lives as an excuse to avoid having to actually live their own life. We are terrified of who we actually are, terrified of the inner space that is the basis of the human experience…
The problem with being busy is that it is based on ignorance—not realizing that by keeping your mind occupied constantly you are actually not giving yourself a chance. We even put an activity in our life, called meditation, where you practice not being busy. Think about it. It’s actually genius. You have added another thing on top of everything else you do, but you are pulling the plug for a period of time every day—so it actually has a reverse effect of opening up and creating space. So you are just going to be more busy now! But this is good, especially in Western culture. People put meditation on their To Do lists. This is something I tell my students:
“If you don’t put meditation on the top of your To Do list, it will be at the bottom, and it won’t happen.”
I find that if meditation is not the first priority of my day it won’t happen.
I realized that the way you accomplish things in life—whether with family or going to work—is through practice. One hour of work with the practice behind you is worth two days when the practice isn’t there. Things just don’t work well—there’s too much neurosis in it. When I don’t feel busy, things I have to do fall into place. Going through my day with a sense of relaxation, I connect with people. I appreciate the outdoors when I walk to my car. I see the sky.
I encourage you to take a chance: put practice at the top of the list. Don’t make that call if it isn’t something that actually needs to happen—so many of the things we do is to make people like us. “I have to make this call or so-and-so is going to be upset.” I have a pretty good idea that if you do that you will find that there is plenty of time to practice, no matter how busy you are. Busy people will look at your life and go, “I don’t see how you can do it!” ~ Reggie Ray of the Dharma Ocean Foundation
Dr. Reggie Ray currently resides in Crestone, Colorado, where he is Spiritual Director of the Dharma Ocean Foundation, a non-profit educational organization dedicated to the practice, study and preservation of the teachings of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche and the practice lineage he embodied.
At this years Winter Dathün Retreat, Dr. Reggie Ray will be providing instruction on the Pinnacle Teachings of Tibetan Buddhism, Mahamudra. Click here for registration or more information.
Elephant 365 is an example of Elephant Journal’s commitment to the Mindful Life. Everyday we will offer a new reading regarding meditation practice and the spiritual path, all infused with a fresh perspective on traditional spirituality. If you would like to follow Elephant 365 on FaceBook click here and become a fan of Elephant Meditation by clicking the “Like” tab at the top of the page.
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