We affect one another. I was thinking this earlier today. After encountering a series of unexpected difficulties, I found myself frustrated and grumbling, beginning to view my life with a whole lot of resentment. And then, I remembered.
I took a tumble in a local mall recently. Making a sharp turn through the gap between a pair of upholstered benches, I discovered there actually was no gap between those benches. A low table occupied the space. Which was a fact that soon had me sprawled on the floor in the midst of Saturday afternoon shopping.
I’ve been working with a practice known as ‘labelling’. This is something I find useful when my attention begins to wander a lot in meditation. And my attention has certainly been wandering of late. In brief, this practice involves acknowledging moments of distraction – moments in which I drift into rumination and storytelling – by labeling the experience ‘thinking’.
The meditative tradition makes frequent use of the verb ‘solidify’. We have a tendency, the teachings assert, to do this. To the extent that we do solidify, we suffer. All of which seems pretty straightforward in a 1 + 1 = 2 kind of way. But what the heck is meant by this term? What is being pointed to with the word ‘solidify’?
I remember purchasing ‘Down In The Groove’. It was one of the last entries in Dylan’s considerable back catalogue brought into my collection. I’d seen the album before, but had resisted the impulse to bring it home. Though I had not yet read the words quoted above, I’d heard many similar verdicts through the years.
I used to walk downtown a lot. Sometimes for an acupuncture appointment or work meeting. On other occasions, I’d run errands or go for a cinnamon bun at Bubby Rose’s. Whatever the reason, I used to make the thirty minute journey there and thirty minute journey back several times a month. The pandemic has changed this.
It took me a moment to understand what I was seeing. Certainly nothing out of the ordinary: four columns of shopping baskets, stacked and sanitized, waiting for use. At the same time, however, there was something different about this.
I started listening to a podcast recently. The Daily Poem, as the name suggests, offers poetry every weekday morning. Episodes begin with a recitation. This is followed by a short commentary from the show’s host, David Kern. A second reading then concludes each broadcast.
In Buddhism, holding on is considered the root of human suffering. When we hold on – whether we hold on to something and push it away, pull it toward, or even hold on in order to ignore – tension is generated. We feel stressed, anxious, edgy. We suffer.
My daughter put together an interesting history project recently. As part of their twentieth century overview, her class was looking at the stretch 1910-1919. Each student was given an aspect of this span to present upon; her focus was popular music.
Completing a program typically initiates a time of transition for me. Whether I am returning from Crestone or Salt Spring Island, whether it’s Sutrayana Foundation Yana or Sutrayana Mahayana that has just ended, an event’s conclusion often opens a state of being in which I really don’t know.
I enjoyed a short exchange with a friend not long ago. This is someone I have not seen in a while, but whose company was always rich and rewarding. Our back and forth took place via a series of email exchanges. At the bottom of all of her notes were a number of links; one of these took me to her blog.
My initial impetus was self-centred. I was tired of how out of date my old website felt. Sure that site had served it’s purpose well at one point. It was now more than ten years old, however; much had changed. Even after considerable revamp and alteration, the old neilmckinlay.com – with its swimming-oriented background and its broad, careful language – no longer reflected what I was doing.