Steps On The Journey

One of my all-time favorite Zen-based lessons goes as follows.  Two monks must travel together from their monastery to a distant place which involves crossing a fast-running river.  Upon arriving at the river, they discover a woman standing on the banks unable to cross on her own.  One monk simply picks her up and carries her across, depositing her on the other side.  All go their separate ways.  That evening, when their rule of silence is released – the second monk attacks the first for “touching that woman.”  The first monk replies – “I only carried her across the river, you’ve carried her all day.”

Oh my. How much time is spent carrying (if not nurturing) events, exchanges, actions that have no need to be remembered, much less retained, as emotional traumas?  I know that I do it way too often.  And, I know as well, that not only is it not good for me, it is truly bad for me.

Retaining, remembering, and hoarding those emotional upsets prevents me from being present to the actual Truth of Now.  The actual being aware and awake to my life as it is.  And let’s not even visit what neuroscientists say about how much easier it is for us to go to those bad, unhappy, defensive places.  Even without our practicing and reinforcing the choosing of unhappy.  We can of course blame those Neanderthal ancestors for constantly being concerned with food, fight, flight, sleep, and then leaving those emotions as primary in the genetic memory pool.  But, I digress.

One of my preventative measures is to write every morning.  It started a year ago as an “assignment” I gave myself from Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way.  It has become a must-do practice that allows me to discover, and frequently release, events both old and current that have lodged themselves in my state of being. Astounding how some long-ago (seeming) rejection feeds a current self-doubt. How a goal not met in the past, defines how freely, and how high, I let myself aim today.

For me, letting the pen go across the page has produced descriptions of sh*t that I thought I had long ago forgotten let alone released.  So why retrieve those memories?

Because I’ve learned I have a decades long habit of saying – this doesn’t matter, just let it go – when it really does matter. Or I go to — I won’t think about it – or worse yet I stuff it into a dark storage space and never let myself feel the Truth.  Every time I hide something, I add a layer to the walls blocking my growth, preventing my learning what I need to know, and I keep myself from being aware and present to the different choices I can make now.

Every time I do acknowledge something, historical or current, that hampers my focus on what’s happening now, I recognize that acknowledgement as the first step to releasing it.  Every time that release happens, I open space in my being to allow choosing the good.  I create the space to grow the opportunities – the options – to become more.

Our thought does not go out to influence persons or things. What it does is readjust our own consciousness, our own thinking, to include a larger and a more harmonious field of action. We learn that when we get our own consciousness straightened out, things in our external world adjust themselves to meet our new and better inward awareness.”      Ernest Holmes, Living the Science of Mind 204.3

We can only be in charge of ourselves, but we can be in charge if/when we choose to be so.   Peace.

by Mariann Moery

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