What is it that brings us to training? We see something about our own mix of conditioned habits and tendencies, maybe not too clearly, and sense that it would be good to be clearer about what drives us to act in the ways we do. So we come to meditation with a range of ideas and expectations about what it is and how it may help us.
Meditation is not what we think. It is a bit like swimming: we can look at other people doing it, read about it and consider doing it, but until we actually get into the water we will never know the reality of swimming. It takes some degree of trust and patience in the practise to really begin to let go of our ideas and concepts about ourselves and others . Then we begin to see old situations and habits with a fresh eye, a more compassionate eye.
We can trust that this is a path that other human beings have walked with very similar mixes of anger, greed, inadequacy, fear, harsh judgementalism and so on, and that they allowed the heart/mind of meditation to soften these habits and gradually convert them. It is possible for us to do the same. There is no need to carry the burden of the "self" we have constructed like a protective shield against the world. More and more we wish to live with openness and be able to respond authentically to the inner and outer circumstances of our lives. There are glimpses of a deeper natural spaciousness within us that draw us on.
Having Rev. Favian and other fellow trainees at the Priory is a great help. Seeing that other people are sincerely doing their best to loosen the grip of old habits of body,speech and mind gives us encouragement to go deeper and face the things that seem difficult or dangerous to us. On-going meditation practice grounds us and helps us to allow the teaching to penetrate all aspects of this seeming small self.
Training in Everyday Life
Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey is set up to allow fewer distractions, so going on a retreat there can give us more time and space for meditation. Practicing working meditation with others can also be really helpful.
Over time there may seem to be sudden bursts of growth and understanding, periods of stagnation and confusion, and periods where nothing much seems to be happening: all the highs and lows of everyday life with work/ family/health.
The conditions in the world, within ourselves and our reactions to all of that become grist for the mill of training. Our life /training have their own rhythm and pace, more and more we trust that natural process. Our true nature is not separate from all that, so we can learn how to relax and allow our lives to unfold, moment by moment.
Priory garden .
Meditation at Throssel