“Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.” ~Chinese Proverb
An unfettered mind is a mind free to respond. No reaction, no urgency, no rushing – calm, flowing response. Like a river rushing, it rushes no faster than gravity or the river bed will permit. The river doesn’t react, it responds to the forces of the earth, the curves of the ground, the winds overhead. And when the winds cease and the ground levels out, then the river returns to its original state – just water.
Our practice is to slow down and return to our original state, so that we can know it when we revisit the torrential river.
Our practice is to cultivate attention to the point where we can experience whatever arises, without reacting, by remaining in the original state of relaxation and complete awareness.
“the practice of meditation is the study of what is going on”
– thich nhat hahn
Our practice is to become fully aware, fully mindful of the absolute present, with complete acceptance, for when something arises in your experience that you cannot experience, you go to reaction rather than response. When the moment is not accepted as the result of all the moments which came before it, you cease to respond to the reality that is the absolute present, and move to the past or future minds, where fears, wants and desires reside.
Our practice needs to cultivate a level of attention so that we can experience whatever arises – thereby not needing to fall into reaction. Our practice needs to cultivate not only our ability to see and sense the experiences around us, but to see the, at the pace at which they are occuring, at the times that they are occurring – and not at the pace or time that we wished they occurred. Wishing them differently is attachment. Attachment is tension. Tension is the root of reaction.
Accepting them as they are is detachment. Detachment is relaxation. Relaxation is the root of responding.
As Ken McLeod expressed, our practice is to experience we are free to respond to what the situation actually requires – not what the situation is provoking in us. All situations are gifts, for they all can provoke a reaction from us. Mild reactions and severe reactions. Harsh reactions and pleasant reactions. Our practice should be a practice of equanimity – one where our reactions are replaced by our responses. From the outside, our responses may appear the same, if not identical to our reaction – but it is not a reaction.
And in that moment, as inspired by Ken McLeod, we can then become an ongoing response to the pain and suffering of the world.
Our practice is to find the harmony, the balance, the equanimity to become an ongoing response, a continuous set of responses, moment after moment, second-by-second responses to each infinite moment.
And when you find yourself reacting, having broken the ongoing response, slow down, breathe deeply, and return to your practice – thereby returning to the journey of becoming an ongoing response to the pain, the suffering, the truth of each moment presented to us.
“Restore your attention or bring it to a new level by dramatically slowing down whatever you’re doing.” – Sharon Salzberg