just be it It’s about the work involved in establishing a dedicated practice to feelings of a bigger belonging through practices aimed at increasing feelings of compassion, gratitude and forgiveness
February, 2010

Putting Attention to Form

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010
Perfect balance requires proper form.

Perfect balance requires proper form.

It’s been said our attachments to a sense of ‘correctness’ grow our suffering and diminish our happiness.  It also seems that what we put attention to grows stronger.  So how does this play when learning a new skill set?  With proper attention to correct form our growth accelerates and we more easily remove obstacles to deepening our practice of a particular field of study.  Without proper initial instruction we may ignore correct form and place more and more attention to doing something that becomes an obstacle to deepening our practice.  We may develop a limiting habit obstructing our growth, simply because we’re placing more and more attention to incorrect form.  This has become a problem in our more liberated society where almost anything goes in the name of freedom.  Yet, we can see that real talent deepens with a resolve to disciplined practice under the guidance of a teacher well versed in proper form.  The illusion is that great talent just happens.  For sure, some have greater aptitude to develop skills in certain areas.  Yet, anyone who’s achieved greatness has a long history of associating with masters of form dedicated to precision on the road to style and liberation.

We’re born in harmony and rhythm, with a deep felt connection to all that’s around us.  And then we’re exposed to form.  There’s a correct way to do things.  We put attention to movement, we study how others move, we learn the structure of language, and we deepen our sense of connection with those in our presence.  Much of this is “pre-wired” and at some point we wish to explore a specialized skill. Anyone watching American Idol tryouts can see how we’ve lost our attention to discipline and form.  Contestants show up for audition with no previous discipline and instruction to singing.  Correct form is missing as they fail to find the harmony and rhythm of the song.  Correct form is necessary to find that felt sense of connection in the rhythm and harmony of life.  A lack of regard to form results in dissonance, a separation from harmony and rhythm, and suffering to those in its presence.

I once had a teacher working with me on proper form for meditation.  After years, the instruction became more and more subtle, forever directing me to correct bad habits, improper form.  Slight adjustments were made and when, after long sittings, my shoulders rose, he’d wake me to proper form with a loud crack of a stick on my shoulder.  Proper form is good because it requires our full attention.  With deepening practice, dedicated to proper form and one hundred per cent attention, we find our ‘best’.  Put another way, our dedicated practice allows us to face our tendency to separate from awareness to form and eventual ‘flow’.  This ‘flow’, ‘in the zone’ experience is once again touching the depth of nature’s harmony and rhythm.  It is the deep felt experience of connection, of our interdependence with all things.  Eventually we reach a level of performance where we disappear, no longer separated from our instrument, teammates, audience, environment, etc.   This place, achieved through deep attention to correct form, is a place of distinctive quality recognizable to all in it’s presence.  The individual’s vowed attention to deepening inspires us all to a felt sense of interconnection, touching Big Hope.  It’s a ‘feeling’ that relieves us from our suffering, from our sense of separation.  The creative artist’s deep work has given us a taste of the joined response.  This brief taste is the core of Just Be it and recognized as quality.  Good teachers recognize bad form as an obstacle to learning and know how to break the obstacles created from bad habit.  Good teachers know how to nurture the student’s passion, once again igniting the fire that needs no wood.  And good teachers know it may not be helpful to waste time on those students who refuse to dedicate to a deepening practice of proper form.  Learning correct form is difficult and uncomfortable.  However, once learned, it’s the foundation to finding comfort in the uncomfortable, the ingredient necessary to wrap around the uncertainty inevitable in the next level of performance.

The ‘Feeling’ of Connection, How Do We Cultivate It?

Monday, February 1st, 2010
Breaking Obstacles the Felt Sense of Joining

Breaking Obstacles to the 'Felt' Sense of Joining

A basic premise of ancient spiritual teachings and contemporary physics is that “everything changes and everything is connected”.  Some have called this the tension between the law of impermanence (The Second Law of Thermodynamics) and the Law of Interdependence (Everything affects everything).  The joy we find in our lives can be directly related to our capacity to face the uncertainty of change and our cultivation of the ‘feeling’ of being joined.  While greed, ignorance and fear continually work us to feelings of separation, we’re repeatedly challenged to move past the temptation to separate.  In what seems to be accelerated change, the illusions of things not changing has been shattered.  A few conservative talk/TV hosts and politicians receive popularity by playing to people’s desires to ‘the way things were’.  In the face of a rapidly changing economy, facing challenges to meet change in globalization, immigration and stewardship to the planet, their responses to facing the uncertainty of the future are simply a child’s scream of “No, I don’t want to go there”.  Yet, the train’s moving and it’s moving faster than ever before.  And so we tend to polarize on our willingness to meet change and uncertainty, creating the unproductive stalemate in our mind’s separation from one another.

So where do we get our ‘feeling’ of connection?  How big or small is it?  My childhood focused on family, church and the community.  There was a sense that the authority within my circles of belonging had the answers to change and uncertainty.  It was simply a matter of belief.  I carried a peace in thinking we didn’t need to drill deeper in our curiosity about impermanence and interdependence.  This was not helpful when facing the rapidly changing social climate of the late ’60’s and early ’70’s.  My ‘feeling’ of separation grew as the foundation of most authoritative beliefs was shattered by observation.  The lack of congruity of action to belief was too big and I temporarily separated from my history, simply denying my beliefs rather that taking it as challenge to dig deeper.  My sense of security had been replaced by the realities of uncertainty.  My sense of connection had been replaced by an angered sense of separation.

It’s been a long road back, forever challenging my mind’s temptation to stop, to hold out on the surface, deflecting the depths of life.  Yet, life happens.  People die, suffering doesn’t go away, and conditions present us directly in the midst of uncertainty and our total interdependence.  It becomes a continual battle between willingness to explore or sliding back to the obstacles I grow in preventing a spiritual deepening.  Some of us try to grow our sense of belonging through technological advancements, working every social network we can.  Others define a sense of belonging by number of returned text messages.  Our media seems to push our sense of success and belonging in definitions from dollar worth.  And all the way we seem to be losing our real capacity to connect with one another as ourselves.

The real litmus test for one’s ‘felt’ sense of interconnection can be seen in the level of curiosity.  The love carried forward is evidenced by one’s genuine desire to go deeper through skilled listening.  It seems more and more rare to find those willing to break beyond the veils and obstacles of ‘busyness’ and ‘fear’.  While it seems safer and easier to lock into our safe routine and fixed beliefs, eventually life presents the challenge to drill deeper.  Whether in sickness, injury, job loss, natural disaster or any other upset that pulls the rug from our sense of security, we eventually meet the choice of digging deeper, burying our head in the sand, or swimming upstream against the laws of nature.  At some point we come to see our health is dependent on other’s health.  Our depth of being is dependent upon others’ depth of being.  Our spiritual security is dependent upon other’s spiritual security.  Our capacity to show up, pay attention and be our best is  dependent upon others showing up, paying attention and being their best.  In short, our best is found in breaking the barrier between you and me, us and them, as we arrive to a bigger belonging.  We come home to the ‘felt’ sense of our connection through Big Hope, not pollyanna wishes for things to be different than they are.  They just are and can we meet the very ‘is-ness’ of this moment in loving gratitude for one another?  Can we openly explore our differences in search of our similarities, touching the essence of our interdependence?  Can we connect with our perceived enemies through the simple courage of asking, “Can you tell me more as I try to stand in your shoes for a moment?”.  Can we acknowledge that perception is deception, that the problem is never what we think it is?  Can we breath in “yes” to the rare opportunity to meet in this moment, breathing out “thank you” for our courage to participate?  In review of the day, can we be specific about actions, thoughts and speech taken to move to deeper joining?  Can we honestly review those areas where we’ve contributed to harm, feeding feelings of separation?  Can we humble our selves, pledging to aim away from thoughts of judgment and opinion?  Can we raise ourselves to be the mountain in the face of uncertainty, forever willing, ready and able to show up in full attention, aiming to be our best?  Can we cultivate gratitude and big sense of belonging, standing in the consequent feeling of joy?s