Sharon shares insight and words of encouragement on our meditative practice.
We get a better understanding of the meaning of the word meditation and context for how it works in our lives. We learn to appreciate meditation as cultivation and the importance of getting used to it. Sharon is joined by Roshi Joan Halifax to take questions from the audience on patience, teaching others, and appreciating our contributions no matter how small they may be.
Loving Ourselves and Each Other (Opening) – How do we go about truly loving our neighbor as ourself? What if we hate our neighbor or ourselves? Through practice we can cultivate that love and let go of what separates us from each other.
Getting Used To It (2:55) – In the Pali language, the word for meditation means cultivation. Sharon explains the connection between meditating and cultivating. Through this, we are creating the conditions for the experiences and way of life we want to emerge.
In some Tibetian traditions, the phrase used for meditation means “getting used to it” or “getting familiarized with it,” but what is “it?” Both of these offer a different way of approaching life. A life full of ease and patience, which comes with practice.
“A mind (a life) will get filled with qualities like mindfulness and loving-kindness moment by moment, the way a bucket would get filled with water drop by drop.” – The Buddha
We Practice (12:10) – Sharon talks about the importance of practice. She shares how she found a structure around her meditation practice that served her best. We are encouraged to practice every day. It doesn’t have to be long, even meditating for just ten minutes a day will make a difference.
Reminders (16:25) – Sometimes we need little reminders to bring us back into the moment. Whether it be waiting for three rings before picking up the telephone or enjoying your cup of tea without any distractions. In our world of multitasking, it is important on occasion to take a moment to breathe and focus on only one thing at a time.
“All of this makes our own lives a very creative medium, where there is so much possibility to craft the day in a way that really supports our deepest values.”
Patience and Teaching Others (22:15) – Sharon and Roshi Joan Halifax take questions from the audience. A meditation teacher, who teaches medical students, laments all of the shortcuts and easy alternatives to their practice. He asks advice on how to teach others, and ourselves, to cultivate patience.
The real answer is that the skills of practice we are learning IS the shortcut. Our culture is set up in a way that we expect to see a drastic change in a short time, but this is not how meditative practice works.
It is also important to not just teach others, but be the teaching. When others see the change in our lives and progress we have made, then it encourages others to find patience and stay on their path. Roshi Joan shares how to communicate the benefits of practice with professionals in particular.
Not Enough (36:55) – What do we do when we feel that our contributions are negligible or pale in comparison to others? This mindset is a common conditioning for us all. Sharon shares her own insecurities around this.
Even when we are unable to be the person who makes the greatest contribution, we can support that person and those who also support them. We never know the full outcome of our actions and how they affect others. Everything we do is part of a bigger picture, or mandala, and is a beautiful contribution in its own way.
“The beauty of mindfulness is that from one point of view, you begin to understand that you are in a continuum of causes and conditions. We should be responsible for that, living deeply, ethically, mindfully, and caringly even though we are not looking for a payoff.”
This talk was taken from a 2015 Upaya Zen Center retreat. For click here for information on upcoming retreats.
If you are looking for ways to commit yourself to your practice check out Sharon’s talk, Reflections for Sustained Practice.