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Arriving at Your True Self by Way of the small self

When I first started practice, I really thought I’d discovered a way to bypass all of that messy self-reflection stuff I had been engaging in for so long through various methods-- psychotherapy being the most ongoing one. If I just meditate everyday, I thought, I’ll be able to magically erase all of the conditioning, karma, and years of habit energy that brought me to where I am today. And then and only then will I be able to come back to my Buddha nature.

I at least had it half right--regular meditation practice does allow us to gradually return to the natural state of our minds as they are before thinking and conceptualization arises. However, there’s just no avoiding all of the muck we’ve accumulated since our earliest years, because these layers of spiritual and emotional grime obscure our pure and awakened nature. 

After all, even a nugget of gold can’t shine brilliantly until the dirt gets cleared away.

Meditation is not about arriving at some mystical state that makes introspection an obsolete endeavor: rather it’s a process by which we need to take a good, close look at how our minds work so that we no longer have to be quite so beholden to them. Instead of being driven around by the race car that is our brain, we train ourselves to take a firm hold of the steering wheel and drive the car instead of allowing it to drive us around until it eventually causes us to crash into a wall. 

So we simply learn to notice our brain, the thoughts it secretes, and the stories we’ve spent years creating about who we are what life is like. These narrow confines we operate within drastically limit the ways in which we can respond to life, and cause us to act and react in rather predictable and unhealthy ways.

Just by being fully present with things as they are and watching our minds from moment to moment to moment, we have the opportunity to gradually peel away each layer of the cocoon that keeps us feeling trapped, and distorts our view so that life appears to be nothing but one long and lonely struggle. 

Join me and Kimberly Brown for a Mindfulness Weekend retreat in January 2013--more information HERE
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