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    From the Back Cover:
    Marc Lesser provides clear guidance and simple practices for embracing and navigating five central paradoxes in life to increase our effectiveness and happiness. Influenced by the revolutionary trainings he helped develop at Google, Know Yourself, Forget Yourself is a profound book about cultivating emotional skills through difficulties and challenges. More

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Endless Changes

A short verse from Dongshan, a 6th century Chinese Zen teacher:

Not getting caught by it is or it isn’t
Do you have the courage to be at peace with it?
Everyone wants to leave the endless changes
But when we stop bending and fitting our lives
We come and sit by the fire.

It takes courage to not be caught by “it is or it isn’t” by liking and not liking, wanting and not wanting, good and bad, and right and wrong. We all want clarity, and of course some things are good and bad, and some things are right and wrong. And yet, how do we have the courage to hear other points of view, to not dismiss those who don’t agree with us?

The reality of change can be daunting. When I’m teaching, I sometimes suggest that if you don’t fully embrace the reality of change, just look in the mirror. Is that person now, the same person I was looking at yesterday, last year, ten years ago. The reality of change is potent, mysterious, sacred, and freeing.

And, let’s all stop bending and fitting our lives. The last line in the verse, come and sit by the fire, I find as an invitation not only for rest and acceptance, but and invitation to act without anything extra.

I find so many practices in the midst of this short verse:
– letting go of dualistic, yes and no thinking
– leaning in to change
– finding effortlessness in the midst of effort

Our Guides Along The Journey

I’ve been enjoying re-reading The Hero With A Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell, published in 1949, describing the similar archetypal path of humans, throughout time and across cultures.  The first three parts of this path are named as:

–       the call to adventure

–       refusing the call

–       supernatural aid

The first part of the human journey is to be called, usually unexpectedly to do something, find something, or achieve something.

The second part, is refusing the call. Often, we don’t want to answer the call – we are too busy, or it’s too dangerous, or we have other things to do.

The third step along the way, as described by Campbell is supernatural aid.  He uses this term to describe our guides along the way; the people that seem to almost “magically” appear to help us.

I’ve had so much help, from so many people. I don’t generally think of it as being supernatural, but this help and guidance is certainly usually unexpected and surprising.   “Even to those who apparently have hardened their hearts, the supernatural guardian may appear.”

This is an excellent topic to think about or write about. Who have your guides been?  And, who are you guides now, in your life?  In what way is your heart hardened, and in what way is your heart open?

Seven factors of cultivating freedom

The Buddhist tradition names what are called the seven factors of enlightenment.  Enlightenment is a fancy word for finding more freedom, real confidence, and emotional flexibility. These factors are meant to be practiced, not just during meditation practice but throughout daily life:

1. Mindfulness – awareness practice is the basis for cultivating more freedom

2. Discernment – this is the practice of seeing more clearly

3. Energy – making just the right amount of effort

4. Joy – cultivating an open, uplifting state of mind

5. Relaxation – staying calm in the midst of activity

6. Concentration – the ability to stay engaged, present, and focused

7. Tranquility – skillful engagement

Choose one of these practices and try it on this week.  How does it show up in your life? What is the resistance or difficulty? What supports you in this practice?