Tuesday, December 27, 2005

An Invitation to Adventure, Tuesday, Dec. 27,2005

POSSIBILITIES, December 27, 2005
At any given moment, we have the possibility to be aware of whether we are breathing in, breathing out or are between these two actions. The breath goes in and out and pauses without our direction, luckily. Also luckily, it feels gentle and sweet to ourselves to put attention on our breathing.

Lungs expanding, lungs contracting, the ribs rise and fall, the ribs expand out and to the sides and even to the back of us. The belly comes forward and then falls back toward the spine. We might even feel our breathing in our pelvis, in our neck, in the back below the ribs.

What an adventure, always available to us: this adventure of following the breathing.

As adventure we are usually too “busy” to undertake. Why?

Oh my, that is the sad story of our lives as robots. We do what we have programmed ourselves to do, with a lot of help from others, from the social system in which we find ourselves, from our so-called education.

Some think of education as math and literature and ideas, languages and history, the world of discovery and learning. That’s what I hope these essays will be: a reminder to you and to me, gentle reader, of the possibilities of expanding our lives, day by day, breath by breath, awake moment by awake moment.

But – the ever present ‘but’ butting in to remind us of the contradictory nature of life – most of what we are really educated in is the art of dulling down our lives to a sort of robotlike compliance with a set of rules of which we are mainly unaware. These rules have everything to do with fitting in and not rocking the boat, with keeping it a secret how asleep and robotlike we are, or keeping up appearances and helping other people maintain whatever image it is that they want to present to the world. The push behind these rules is to avoid the discomfort of something new, something out of the rut, even if getting out of the rut might mean a wonderful and sweet improvement of our lives. The conditioning is this: if it’s different it might be worse.

This “education” has us stuck in uncomfortable ways of moving and holding ourselves, has us so disconnected from nature and the outdoors that many of us are unable to happily walk a mile or two to get to the next place, has us unable to actually listen when another person is talking, so anxious are we to get in our two bits, that we interrupt or spend the time not listening but preparing our next canned bit of words we have said again and again.

And this is the great trap of our false education: our attention is always on what is in the future, our “to do” list, or the words we have to spout out next, the next place we have to go, or our attention is stuck in old resentments, in feelings of how we were misused or not treated with enough love and gusto in the past. We need only look through our phone books to discover a batch of people against whom we hold not too delightful feelings, feelings all based on keep past stories alive.

And even I, writing this first by hand, then typing into the computer have the challenge: can I be aware of breathing and sensing my arms and legs and spine, be aware of sounds and light as I put one word after another out into the world? And you, gentle reader, can you be here now, too, hearing or reading these words. ‘Tis an adventure we are on, an adventure in awareness. Let us sally forth.


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