Paradigm Shift

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Since I was a child, I’ve hated scary movies.  And as I grew up I learned to avoid the genres of action, adventure, crime, fantasy, horror, mystery, thriller and science fiction.  I am a sensitive person and so I would get so caught up in the film it would feel like I was a participant.   For example – when I was in high school I chose to stop watching The Amazing Race because I would get so wrapped up that I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep afterwards.

Last week I went to the movie theatres to watch the relatively calm film Inside Llewyn Davis and as usual there was a preview for an action film before the movie started.  And I had the realization that if I focussed on breathing deeply while watching the preview – I didn’t get caught up in it.  I didn’t get carried away into thinking that I was actually the main character in a fight for my life.  My body didn’t go into fight or flight mode.  And I could relax even while watching the preview.

Now this might not seem like that big deal but this has been a huge paradigm shift for me.  Instead of avoiding all the things and all the people that make me tense (which ends up being A LOT of things and A LOT of people and gets quite complicated) – I can shift the way I interact with them.  By connecting to my breath and to myself I can change the experience of the situation.

And now there are a lot of opportunities for me to practice :).  Living and working in a shared space means I end up bumping into others and into myself.  So what helps me stay connected to my breath in the midst of conflict?

I am practicing and I am finding out.  And I am learning to change how I experience the challenges in my life.

Renunciation

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I want renunciation.

And this is a shocking thing to say – even to myself – as just a couple of months ago I saw renunciation as following a long list of rules that force one to give up everything fun or pleasurable.

That isn’t renunciation at all actually.
That’s forcing.

And I recently I let go of my attachment to completing all 30 books report by the deadline.  Not giving up, but detached from the outcome.  Transforming it from a to-do list item to part of my life’s work.

Spiritual teacher and pioneer in bringing yoga to the West, Swami Radha, says that renunciation cannot be forced.  You can be very determined but the cucumber will only drop from the vine when its ripe.[1]

And as the burdens I have carried for far too long begin to fall away it’s an indescribable feeling of freedom.  It’s the feeling of flying down a hill on my bicycle.  It’s the feeling of a bird flying quickly through the forest.  Darting in and out through the tangle of branches.  Fast, focused and free.

And I want more.

So my work is ripening the cucumbers – which as a gardener I know is both a complicated and simple thing to do.  The main ingredient is time but the cucumber will not make it at all if the seed is not planted or if there isn’t day to day care.

And as I tend the burdens in my life – giving them water and love – and wait for their time to ripen – I am learning to be like that bird.

I am learning to be free.


[1] Radha, Swami. On Sanyas. Kootenay Bay: timeless, 2010, p. 23.

Want to read more about learning to be free?  See Rise Up or The Rule Book.