In Times Like This…
A reflection on practice by Carol Cano
Going for a walk-in nature calls us to pause & listen to the whispers of our ancestors calling us to remember. I remember our beloved late teacher Thich Nhat Hanh saying,
“Do you love yourself yet? If you don’t respect yourself, it will be difficult to love & respect others or the Earth. When you’re caught in the idea that this body is you, or this mind is you, you underestimate your value. But, when you can free yourself from the notion of self & see your body & mind as a stream of being of all your ancestors, you’ll begin to treat your body & mind with more respect.”
For many of us, the Buddha’s teachings turn us inwards in a real way, where the possibility of an honest moment can be met for the first time. In this honest moment, we encounter a close relative, the element of air, through our breath & an awareness of our body contracting & expanding. In this expansion, we touch into a glimpse of liberation, as we are briefly freed from whatever story or emotions, we may have been caught in. The next moment depends on the conditions that we have set up. Perhaps a mind that is open, receptive, relaxed, and alert. Perhaps a body that is grounded & rested in congruence with this process of meditation. Setting up these conditions through practice is just the beginning of our continuous return.
Each time I take a seat on the cushion, I am called to remember my late beloved teachers & their teachers before them & their teacher before them. I can feel the ancestorial support from their lineages of wisdom. I think of all our ancestors who struggled to face themselves as I have many times. It takes courage to face oneself truthfully & to remember these moments of deep listening & peace, even in the midst of sorrow & grief to return to the cushion over & over again.
For Indigenous people, ancestors are important teachers of detachment because they have faced the great mystery of death. They are the greatest practitioners of letting go & trusting this cycle of life as the greatest teacher of impermanence. Each day, we honor our teachers who have come before us, as we take in Nature’s natural rhythm of letting go through connecting with our elemental relatives. By witnessing this nature’s flow, which remains ever so fleeting, with each drop of rain, or a gust of wind, or touch of sunshine, all transitioning immediately upon noticing.
Spring is upon us, may the seeds of your practice bloom this season.
Carol Cano is Founder & Executive Director of Braided Wisdom, a BIPOC led cross-cultural mindfulness organization. A graduate of the 2017-2020 Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s Teacher Training program, she often teaches at Spirit Rock & is a core teacher & a former board member of East Bay Meditation Center. Her unique teachings are deeply grounded in Basque, Native American & Buddhist influences that braid the Dharma along with indigenous wisdom & Earth-based practices.
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