When people ask me how I’m doing these days and how my practice is holding up, I respond by explaining that these are the times I have practiced for and what my practice is yielding is a deep experience of trust and spaciousness. My almost 20 years of practice has helped me to experience opening and space during struggles that seem to demand I shut down and contract.
These times are difficult. It has been difficult for many people well before the pandemic. These are times of severe contraction and shutting down. When we collapse like this, we lose space and our suffering intensifies. Spaciousness is crucial because it is from space that we experience happiness, joy, patience, and wisdom that informs how to make the best decisions.Here are four ways I maintain my spaciousness during challenging periods:
- I trust my practice. Trusting my practice means that I trust that whatever qualities I’m aspiring to cultivate will be cultivated as long as I am putting in enough effort along with the intentions of wanting to reduce my suffering and the suffering of others.
- I trust myself. Trusting myself means that I trust that I have the capability to experience some level of spaciousness to reduce suffering and to experience happiness.
- I have found sources of refuge. We all need to be taken care of. We must find beings or things we can take refuge in, in order to be supported and cared for. My sources of refuge include my teachers, ancestors, deities, the Divine Mother, and the earth just to name a few.
- I practice gratitude. Being grateful means that I often reflect on what I am grateful for and allow the energy of gratitude to inundate my mind and body.
Thank you Lama Owens for this heartfelt and timely sharing. I wish I could be with you to practice Zoom Buddhism this Sunday but I’ll be tuned into the Mountain Bell Sangha. May all be well, Ralph