Showing posts with label Reginald A. Ray. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Reginald A. Ray. Show all posts

How Busyness Can Be Laziness (Think: Buddhist Ideology v Speed)

by Reginald A. Ray

It’s better to take your time and slow down than trade a good job well done for hasty speed or effectiveness. Here’s where Buddhism and busyness collide.

Busy can be good! “Chaos should be regarded as extremely good news!,” as Trungpa Rinpoche used to remind us (and our egos). But busy-ness…not so much–and our speediness and quest for efficiency doesn’t even produce results, often. Mindfulness anchored to busy? Hai!
Life emerges out of the silence of our inner being.
The life that we have in our mind, the life that is a reflection of our planning, the life that has been constructed out of bits and pieces in our environment—external conditioning, things we have observed in other people, things that influential people have told us—is actually not who we are.
That pre-planned life is rigid. It’s artificial. It’s unresponsive. It doesn’t reflect the life that we were born to live.
As a student of mine observed, obstacles—which are always with us—are not really obstacles when you work with them in the right way. And we have to work with them.
Many, many people tell me “I’m having a lot of problems doing this [meditation] practice because I am so busy. I’m really busy. I have a full life. It’s busy and I run from morning ‘til night.” People actually say that.
Now think about that for a minute. What kind of life is that? Is that a life worth living? Some people feel it is. America is probably the most extreme example of a speed-driven culture—and this is not my particular personal discovery, but something that has been said to me by many people from other traditional cultures. The first time this was said to me was when I was 19 and I went to Japan. Western people are running from themselves and they use the busy-ness of their lives as an excuse to avoid having to actually live their own life. We are terrified of who we actually are, terrified of the inner space that is the basis of the human experience.
We are actually incapable of being alone—of any work that requires genuine solitude, without entertainment, that requires making a connection with the silence of the inner being. The American family engineers a life in which there is never any time alone, where we never have to actually talk to each other. Even dinnertime is around the TV, at best—or we’re just grabbing something at McDonald’s.
But it’s not the larger culture. It’s actually us. It’s me and it’s you. We load our life up to the point where it’s about to snap. And when you ask someone to sit down and be with themselves they go, “I can’t. I don’t have time for that.” Now you and I may realize that there actually is a problem. Most people don’t think there is a problem.
We run our kids in the same way—and it’s destroying them. The soccer practice and the music lesson and three hours of TV and homework—it goes on from the minute they get up until they go to sleep. They never have an opportunity to experience silence. Psychological development requires periods of solitude. Anthropological psychology—studying other cultures, as well as our own—shows that when children do not have completely unstructured time, when there are no parental expectations looming over them, they actually can’t develop normally.
We see this at higher levels of education, too. Even the unusual and gifted students at Naropa [University]. These people are disabled, in many cases, because they have lived a busy life, fulfilling all expectations that middle and upper-middle class parents lay on their children because of their fear. The underlying thing is fear of space.
We all have it. I have it in a major way. I am busy. I have all these things that I like to do. When one thing ends, the next thing starts. It’s all important and I have to do it and I don’t sleep enough. So we all have to take another look.
The problem with being busy is that it is based on ignorance—not realizing that by keeping your mind occupied constantly you are actually not giving yourself a chance. We even put an activity in our life, called meditation, where you practice not being busy. Think about it. It’s actually genius. You have added another thing on top of everything else you do, but you are pulling the plug for a period of time every day—so it actually has a reverse effect of opening up and creating space. So you are just going to be more busy now! But this is good, especially in Western culture. People put meditation on their To Do lists. This is something I tell my students: “If you don’t put meditation on the top of your To Do list, it will be at the bottom, and it won’t happen.” I find that if meditation is not the first priority of my day it won’t happen. You know if I am
foolish enough to say, “Well, I have to make this phone call, check my email…,” then it’s over. Finished. “I’ll do it later.” It never happens. Look at your life and ask, “Am I being honest with myself? Is it really true that I don’t have time?”
When I was in graduate school I worked with a Jungian analyst, June Singer. She used to say, “Work expands to fill all of the available space.” The problem is not the amount of things you have in your life, it’s the attitude. It’s your fear of space. Busy-ness in the Tibetan tradition is considered the most extreme form of laziness. Because when you are busy you can turn your brain off. You’re on the treadmill. The only  intelligence comes in the morning when you make your To Do list and you get rid of all the possible space that could happen in your day. There is intelligence in that: I fill up all the space so I don’t have to actually relate to myself!
Once you have made that list, it’s over. There is no more fundamental intelligence operating. So the basic ignorance is not realizing what we are doing by being busy. What we are doing to ourselves, what we are doing to our families, what we are doing to our friends.
When my daughter Catherine, who is now 24, was a newborn baby my wife Lee and I went home to my mother’s house. My father had already died. I grew up in Darien, Connecticut—the ultimate suburbia. Everyone works in New York and they are all busy. My best friend from high school came over with his wife, who was also a close friend of mine, and my godfather came over. This succession of people all came in…and Lee picked up on it right away, because she is from Alberta and out there, there is a lot of space!
These people…we loved each other. We were so close. But it was always the same: after 10 minutes they said, “Well, we got to run!” Every single one did the same thing. And Lee said to me, “What are they so afraid of?” Not one of them was actually present. It made me realize why I left the East Coast and went to India. “How far away can I get?” But these patterns are deeply ingrained in us, and running away is not going to solve the problem. It’s in us.
People on campus always say to me, “Gee, you must be really busy.” I could be standing there looking at an autumn tree. I say “No, I’m not busy, I have all the time in the world.” Now, I may not really feel that way—but somehow we have to stop this mentality. It’s sick. Literally. So I never say to my wife, “I’m busy.” Ever. I used to do it, but it didn’t evoke a good reaction. [Laughter]
“I’m too busy.” I am sorry. I don’t buy it. It’s self-deception: “I am too busy to relate to myself.” I don’t care if you have four children and three jobs—we have one human life. And if you can’t make the time, 15 minutes to relate to yourself, everyone else in your life is going to suffer. You have to realize that you are harming other people by making up excuses and not working on yourself. This is serious.
I do understand that things happen in life, and in the course of a week there are going to be times when you can’t practice if you have a job, a family. But to say that over a period of three months I can’t practice because I am too busy? That is the very problem that you came here to solve. I implore you.
My wife has developed some techniques to help with this problem. I am going to give them to you, and then I’ll ask her permission when I go home for lunch. [Laughter]
Being busy is tricky. We set up our life so we are busy. I do this to myself; this is one of my biggest obstacles. I get excited about things and agree to do things three months from now. But when the time comes I realize it is not a good idea because I can’t do it properly, because I have so much else going on. But I have no choice. I have to go through with it. “God, you idiot, how could you do that!” But getting angry doesn’t help, because there I am and I’ve got a 16-hour day I have to get through.
Unless you viciously carve out time to work on yourself it’s not going to happen. You have to be brutal about it, actually. If your mind is always busy then you have no sense of the world you live in. Because there is no communication, there is no space within which to see what we are doing. We will end up destroying our lives, and you may not realize what you have given up until you are on your deathbed. By being busy you are basically giving away your human existence.
One of the things about being busy is that it is a un-examined behavior. It’s habitual.

3 Thinks to Ask Yourself to Evaluate if You’re too Busy

What’s the Point?
So when something comes up and you think “I need to do this,” the first question to ask is, “Why do I need to do this? What am I expecting to get out of this particular activity? What is the benefit going to be?”
A lot of times we actually don’t even think what we are going to get out of it, or what it’s going to accomplish. Amazing. Say I need to call so-and-so right away. Okay: “Why?” You’d be surprised. You think “Well, it’s obvious.”
It isn’t. We have not thought through most of the things that we do at all. We haven’t looked at what the desired consequence is.
What are the Odds?
I may think I am likely to get something, and sometimes I do. But what is the likelihood that something is not going to happen? How sure am I that what I think I am going to get, will happen? What is the percentage of possibility?
Is Other Stuff Likely to Come Up?
This is the big one for me. Does this action have unforeseen karmic consequences? For example: I want to call up somebody and check on something. A lot of times they start telling me some terrible thing that has just happened. I’d allowed five minutes for this conversation, and 45 minutes later I am still on the phone. We do this all the time. We don’t look at the consequences of a particular action.
It’s like somebody who goes into a café, and there is this huge cheesecake right there. You could buy a slice, but you get a cappuccino and sit down with the entire cheesecake and start eating. Now, from a certain point of view this sounds like bliss. And maybe for a short period of time you are going to forget all the pain of the human condition. I mean, that is the great thing about cheesecake. [Laughter] It boosts your endorphins for 5 or 10 minutes. You feel great! But then, having eaten the entire cheesecake, you feel sick for the next three days.
Strangely enough, this is how we live our lives. We jump on things. Someone asks me, “Why don’t you come to Switzerland, teach for a few days and then hang out in the wonderful Alps?” By the time I get off the phone I am ready to pack. Then I talk to my wife. [Laughter] And she asks me, “Have you considered what a 17-hour trip is going to do to your bad back? Have you thought about that?” And then I get back on the phone. [Laughter]
But, because of our ambitions of all kinds, we are ready to fill our life up to the point where, even if I’m in Switzerland, nothing is different. This is one of the great discoveries: wherever I go it’s still lousy. [Laughter] It’s just me and my mind and I don’t feel good and I have got this work to do and I don’t have the energy. It’s the same story, no matter where I go or what I’m doing.
Except when I sit down and meditate. Then, I feel like I am creating an inner space so I can actually relate to the fact of what my life is, rather than just being in an out-of-control mode. So sit down and ask yourself, “What is important in my life, and what’s less important?” Almost on a daily basis, we have to look closely at the things that remain on our To Do list to see whether they are actually realistic.
Ten years ago, after I’d taught a Dathün—a month long meditation—some of the students said to me, “We feel bonded to each other and to you. We’d really like to keep going” And I said, “Well, we could start a meditation group.” And 10 years later I am trapped with a community of 200 people, called Dhyana Sangha. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful. But I got into it in a blind way. And there are many other things that I do not love in the same way that I get into blindly. We all do that all the time—and we wind up with a life that doesn’t work and isn’t helpful to others.
My ambition to accomplish things is going to be one of the last things to go. I can’t help it; it’s just the way that I am. I see a pile of leaves that need to be raked up and I start salivating. I love to do things. I love to be active. And you can say, “Well, that’s great.” But there’s neurosis in that. It’s a way of shutting out space. This is another thing my wife has taught me: when there’s no space nothing really happens.
I had a wonderful quotation by Chögyam Trungpa up on my wall during my [meditation] retreat. It goes something like, “If there isn’t a complete sense of openness and space, then communication between two people can not happen. Period. It’s that simple.” The communication we have with each other is often based on agendas: negotiating with other people to get what we want. That’s not communication.
My wife taught me that. Insistently. It’s to the point where that busy mind is just not acceptable in our house anymore. It doesn’t matter what’s going on my life. If she comes into my study, I have to be completely there. And that’s fabulous, because I’m never able to get invested in that neurosis. If I do, she’ll let me have it.
Giving up this state of busy-ness doesn’t mean that we aren’t going to be active, creative people. We’re giving up the mentality where you can’t actually relate to what’s in front of you because you have this mental speed going on. Let it go. I’m saying it to you. This is an issue that we are going to have to address if we want to be any good to anyone.
You’ll notice when you work in this way over a period of years—and this is something that I have discovered accidentally—the more you practice, the more you get done. If you sit for 2 hours in the morning, which is a lot for people, you will find that your day is 30 hours long. When you establish sitting, somehow, in your life—when you sit in the morning—your day takes care of itself. Things happen as they need to. There is a sense of auspicious coincidence throughout the day.
And when you don’t sit, things go to hell. [Laughter] Everything runs into everything. You say, “I don’t have time to sit ‘cause I have to do this email.” You run to your computer, turn it on and spend the next 4 hours trying to get your computer to work. This is just how things work.
Magic is actually very down to earth. It’s a part of our lives. It’s going on all the time, we just don’t see it. But when you actually take care of yourself, work with yourself and create openness in your life, life will respond by cooperating. And when you are unwilling to relate with yourself at the beginning of your day, your life is going to give you a hard time.
I got stuck on my first book, Buddhist Saints In India. If I wrote another book like that it would kill me. It was an unbelievable labor. I got stuck in the middle. So I started practicing more, I started doing long retreats. And the book started flowing. The more I practiced, the more the book happened. In a sense, when I meditated I was getting something good done.
I realized that the way you accomplish things in life—whether with family or going to work—is through practice. One hour of work with the practice behind you is worth two days when the practice isn’t there. Things just don’t work well—there’s too much neurosis in it. When I don’t feel busy, things I have to do fall into place. Going through my day with a sense of relaxation, I connect with people. I appreciate the outdoors when I walk to my car. I see the sky.
I encourage you to take a chance: put practice at the top of the list. Don’t make that call if it isn’t something that actually needs to happen—so many of the things we do is to make people like us. “I have to make this call or so-and-so is going to be upset.” I have a pretty good idea that if you do that you will find that there is plenty of time to practice, no matter how busy you are. Busy people will look at your life and go, “I don’t see how you can do it!”
Here’s a teaching that Chögyam Trungpa gave that has changed the way a lot of people look at their work lives: learn how to invite space into your worklife. The space itself will actually accomplish most of what you need to do. In the form of helpful people turning up, auspicious coincidences… And in so doing, you are not only opening up your self, you are opening up the world. It becomes a dance. It’s no longer your job to sit there for 10 hours doing your thing, it’s to respond to the way the world wants things to happen. It’s de-centralized.
In Buddhism, this is one of the paramitas: exertion. Exertion is tuning into the natural energy of the world. And when you tune in, you don’t get tired. You become joyful. That you are part of a huge cosmic dance that is unfolding, moment by moment. And you have to change your ideas of what you thought should happen. It requires flexibility on our part!
Busy-ness. It’s the most commonly mentioned obstacle that everyone faces, and I know for me it’s #1. So I thought it would be worthwhile spending a little time with it. I invite you to take a fresh look at your life. Relate to the fear that comes up when we are not busy. Am I still worthy? It’s that Calvinist thing, underlying our culture. But try letting go and lo and behold it’s a better human life, and much more beneficial for other people.
I hope I didn’t upset anybody by saying these things, but I can’t beat around the bush with you. I need to just lay things out as they come up.

The above is adapted from a talk Dr. Reggie Ray gave as part of his Meditating with the Body retreat.
By Reginald A. Ray, Ph.D.

My principal meditation teacher was Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, one of the first Tibetan lamas to present meditation in the West.

During the 17 years that I knew him, from 1970 until his death in 1987, he transmitted the somatic Vajrayana lineage to me and his other senior students. Since his death, I have been fortunate to have the time and the opportunity to explore extensively Rinpoche’s transmission through study, practice—and most importantly, teaching—where I have learned the most.
One single concept best characterizes the instruction that Rinpoche received from his teachers and that he wanted to pass on to his students: “embodied spirituality.” But in using this term, what are we talking about?
The somatic approach teaches that the spiritual is already, from the beginning, implicit within what we call the material—not only in our own physical body but also (as we shall discuss further below) in the larger body of our incarnate situation in the cosmos. This means that the essential nature of our incarnational materiality, both what is inside (body) and what is outside (cosmos), is already primordially and inherently spiritual.
Trungpa Rinpoche taught that authentic spirituality cannot exist apart from embodied reality because disembodied spirituality is exclusive, separationist, and incomplete. Any attempt to present spirituality as disembodied is a bogus spirituality, a conceptualized, self-serving construct; at the end of the day, it is simply ego’s game, all over again, just on a subtler and more hidden level, what Trungpa called “spiritual materialism.”
The somatic view of Vajrayana Buddhism has revolutionary implications for our meditation practice as modern people and for our spiritual journey altogether. As mentioned, it means that our spiritual life, far from involving a distancing and separating from our body and all the realities of our physical incarnation, requires just the opposite: we must turn toward our body and our life as the proper and only possible arena for authentic spiritual development—as the only place where our path can unfold and as the only possible true access point for our genuine realization.

Anything else is a chimera, a dream.

When I talk about embodied spirituality in the book, The Awakening Body, then, I mean that connecting with our body and our ordinary life are not add-ons: they are the practice of spirituality; they are what the spiritual journey is all about.
The somatic point of view is that the spiritual journey can only really begin within the depths of our incarnation; that we make the full journey only by exploring our own actual experience as an incarnational being, as it progressively discloses itself in our practice and our life; and that, in the end, this body is what we realize in all of its dimensions, in all of its subtlety and depth. This is the ultimate spiritual illumination, the long-sought elixir of life, the realization of nirvana. There isn’t anything beyond this for, as I hope to show you, this is the illumination of the totality of Being.
We can further clarify what embodied spirituality is by seeing what it isn’t.
In many of the traditional religions of both West and East, including many forms of Buddhism, the spiritual life is understood as a process of separating oneself from everything that is problematic and nonspiritual in order to gain higher, “spiritual” states of meditative awareness. And what are these nonspiritual things that one is separating oneself from? All that seems ordinary, mundane, and “worldly”; the body and all that is seated in it, including instincts and sensations; feelings, emotions, and bodily perceptions; human attachment and sexuality; all that feels potentially problematic, chaotic, and obstructive in our life, all that triggers us, activates us, and stirs us up and leaves us feeling confused, troubled, and incomplete.
Meditation is often viewed as a way to separate ourselves from all of this and rise above it, to get to an altitude where we can relax into a space that is unobstructed and peaceful.
This goal of separation seems to reflect a somewhat negative attitude toward our regular life and the ordinary world as if, at least in a spiritual sense, those things don’t hold very much of importance for us. And so we often practice meditation as a process of progressive distancing and disembodiment, where we are employing meditative techniques to separate what we feel are the “higher” part of ourselves—our more pure, clear, and clean parts—from everything that is lower—all the mundane, ordinary, pained, nagging, struggling parts.
This approach leads, as mentioned, to a state of spiritual dissociation.

The process might look like this:

We sit down to meditate and use a technique to try to calm the distress and chaos in our mind, disturbances perhaps fueled by our compulsive thinking, painful memories of unresolved situations or relationships, aggressive competitiveness, and distressing feelings and emotions. We try to smooth the turbulence of all the things that seem to be closing in on us, suffocating us, creating an intense claustrophobia. This tranquilization of our minds is a well-known practice in Buddhism called shamatha, or mindfulness, mentioned earlier. The powerful techniques for this can indeed induce the desired effects and, as our minds begin to quiet down, we may then enjoy a more peaceful and open state.
But here is where things get very tricky: the practice of meditation as a process of tranquilization typically implies a conscious intention, a mental image of what we are looking for, and a process of deliberate inclusion and exclusion leading us toward our desired spiritual goal.
This is tricky because of our remarkable human capacity to limit and control experience: witness the human ego itself. It has been estimated that out of every million parts of information received and processed by our body, we humans only admit 13 parts into our conscious awareness.
That means we only allow ourselves to be conscious of .000013 percent of the data, of experience, known to our body.
That capacity to limit and control our experience is operational in the way mindfulness is practiced by many of us, although we may be quite unconscious of this fact. What often happens with many of us is that we are able, with sufficient discipline and willpower, to get ourselves into something like the desired state; but it takes a tremendous amount of effort of separation and exclusion of everything else to get there and it leaves us in a bit of a trance.

The positive benefits of this kind of meditation should not be minimized:

  • to have a way to separate ourselves, at least for a time, from all that is problematic and painful in ourselves and our lives

  • to have a safe haven to retreat to in the midst of life’s storms

  • to be able to rest and recuperate can have considerable benefits.

This kind of meditation thus becomes a powerful panacea helping us to remove ourselves from the more seamy and squalid, the more difficult and anxiety-ridden realities of daily life: “What a relief!”
Some would argue—some do argue—that this is exactly what meditation is for and, for that reason, we should enthusiastically embrace the capacity it gives us to step out and temporarily dissociate, to disembody, from our embedded, bodily existence. Meditation in this sense is clearly an oasis and an important one in our life, but, as Nietzsche famously remarked, “Where there are oases, there are also idols.”
Taking us in quite another direction, the somatic teachings see the spiritual life as a journey toward ever fuller and more complete intimacy and even identification with our human incarnation—and we are not talking about just the “nice” parts. This means surrendering our separate spiritual stance, our “spiritual” self, and falling into contact, communication, alignment, and, finally, union with the most ordinary, basic aspects of our human existence, as they are. These include everything we go through, our whole somatic existence, with its sensations, bodily perceptions, feelings, and emotions—including all of our ordinary mental life, the ups and downs, the confusion, the pleasure and pain, everything.

For somatic spirituality, our problem is not, as in conventional spirituality, that we are too close to these mundane features of our life but rather that we are too far away from them; our problem is not that we are too embodied (the disembodied approach), but that we are not embodied enough.

The only place we can truly, authentically, and fully wake up is in the midst of life—right in the middle of our quotidian life, exactly as it is.
The somatic lineage is thus life-affirming to an absolute degree; it is, in Trungpa Rinpoche’s words, “ultimate positivity”: we walk the path toward realization by abandoning any sense of distinction between our spiritual journey and our life journey that consists of the specific, gritty realities of our ordinary existence; in fact they are one and the same.
Many writers in our contemporary culture are articulating these or similar ideas. However, simply having this perspective on a purely intellectual or conceptual level is going to be of limited help for ourselves or our world. If, on the contrary, through the somatic methods, we come to see and experience this for ourselves, it changes everything.

We no longer need to be minimizing or denying large parts of ourselves or be engaged in a constant struggle to free ourselves from the mundane aspects of ourselves and our lives.

Quite the opposite, we are now fully and thoroughly liberated into a complete acceptance and openness to everything we are, to see for ourselves that everything we go through is an engagement with the heart of reality itself. Moreover, the somatic approach shows us how to meet the most painful and problematic situations, emotions, and people in our life and to find within those difficult aspects of our life the next step on our path or spiritual journey. In short, to see the grittiness of the world and, more than that, to experience it directly as the blessing we have been searching for.
The approach of somatic spirituality shows us how to transform the yuck and poison of our own negativity into something fresh, wholesome, and creative. And then, finally, the most simple and ordinary aspects of our human experience become sources of insight, freedom and joy, and revelations of the deepest mysteries of the universe.
Thus it is that if we turn our back on our body and our bodily existence—on the ordinary, the commonplace, and mundane—we are turning our back on what is ultimately and finally real; we are giving up our one opportunity to find our own true and destined place within the infinity of being.

From Awakening Body, © 2016 by Reginald A. Ray. Shambhala Publications, Inc., Boston, MA.

Reginald RayReginald A. Ray, Ph.D., draws on four decades of study and practice within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition to address the unique spiritual imperatives of modern people. He is the author of numerous books, including Touching Enlightenment, Indestructible Truth, and Secret of the Vajra World, as well as meditation-oriented audio programs, such as Your Breathing Body and Mahamudra for the Modern World. The spiritual director of the Dharma Ocean Foundation, Dr. Ray regularly leads meditation retreats at Blazing Mountain Retreat Center in Crestone, Colorado. For more information, and access to free audio talks and guided meditations, please visit

Very good book - Touching Enlightenment: Finding Realization in the Body by Reginald A. Ray Ph.D. (Author)

The book describes anatta and losing boundaries into total exertion/Maha (cosmic body) expressed in another way through the portal of a body. The practice is similar to Vipassana or Satipatthana.
“Through his own deep experience, Reggie Ray skillfully guides us into an awakened bodily life. He offers necessary, wise, and liberating practices of realization within our mysterious human form.”
Jack Kornfield, PhD, author of A Path with Heart
Touching Enlightenment provides readers with a fresh look at the steps required to turn our understanding of enlightenment into full embodiment—a vital process that determines the way in which we actually conduct our lives. An indispensible book for the serious practitioner.”
John Daido Loori, abbot of Zen Mountain Monastery and author of True Dharma Eye: Master Dogen’s Three Hundred Koans
"Reggie Ray’s approach to the dharma is wonderfully fresh while also radically rooted in the foundation of the Buddha’s meditation instruction—mindfulness of body. He has a richly textured understanding of the lived body as the vessel of wisdom mind, as well as the carrier of all the karmic patterns that obscure this pristine awareness. Highly recommended."
John Welwood, author of Toward a Psychology of Awakening 

"This breathing practice also helps us uncover the energy that ultimately is the big toe... ...our seemingly solid physical sensations of the big toe are a substantialized and solidified experience of a more primary experience of the big toe: that it is actually a vibrating, scintillating field of energy... in a sense, we become the energy of the big toe, we are it."

"... by sensing it and feeling it, not just as the body does, but as the body. We begin to experience moments when we realize that, fundamentally, "we" are the body. As we find ourselves in greater and greater somatic embodiment, we discover deeper and deeper contact with this world. At this point, our conclusions about it recede into relative unimportance. Life is then less and less about thinking and more and more about simply being."

"When we bring our breath consciously into different parts of our body, there is the physical part, in this case pulling the breath in through the pores of the skin. But at a deeper level, there is the inner breath, by which we are bringing the life energy into that particular part of our body..."
"...Now you are breathing through the entire body, through every pore of the entire body, into every portion of its interior, all its bones, muscles, and organs, into all the cells of the body. Just work on that for a few minutes. It isn't easy, but if you stay with it, the energy, attention, and sense of intense vitality will become greater and greater.

As you are breathing through the entire body, notice if there are any places that perhaps seem a little dead or a little resistant to the breath, and you can emphasize those areas a bit. You are still breathing through the entire body, but you are ending up in that particular spot, trying to bring more life to it, more energy, more awareness, more feeling of being awake and sensitive and sentient.

Continue this for another minute or two. Try to make a lot of effort now, maximize your effort and exertion to the utmost, breathing in through every pore of your body, into every single cell of your body, surface and depth, simultaneously.

Then when you think you can't possibly do any more, you can just let go of the technique and lie quietly. Feel the energy circulating throughout your body. This is the inner breath, the prana, which is your vitality, flowing through your nadis, or energy pathways. Your body is now very, very awake, and you can feel an electricity flowing everywhere. Stay with this for several minutes, enjoying it and being completely in the flow. Stay with it until you feel really satisfied. After resting for a few more minutes, you can sit back up. As you do so, continue this sense of the full body, cellular breathing but gently now with a very light touch."

"We realize that our body feels, senses, knows its interconnection with all things. In fact, we are, we exist, only in and through interconnection; ultimately, we are nothing other than "interbeing," in Thich Nhat Hanh's beautiful phrase. All of this becomes increasingly clear the deeper we enter into our somatic existence... ...modern science is showing us that there is no solid, impermeable, discrete envelope to our individual body and that we are in constant and open-ended exchange with our larger bodies, just as our brain is with our lungs, our bones with our circulatory system: the same principle, just a larger scale."

"We have seen how the interior of our physical body unfolds first as more open than we had suspected, then as the space of our own awareness itself. In our further unfolding, again we saw, we discover that this "interior space" is not limited to our body at all, but is to be found "outside" of us, as a cosmic reality, in the earth beneath us; in this unfolding of our cosmic body, we discover an increasing boundlessness to our own awareness."

"...This standpoint, so to speak, of an experience of the earth beyond subject and object opens the way for the unfolding of a different way of being in and with the rest of the cosmos. Initially, we may begin to feel something very strong calling us - calling, calling continually: a mountain we have seen, a glacier, a particular valley, an open vista, a certain hillside or place in the forest, a tree, a river, a lake. We start to sense - although we cannot quite believe it - that the mountain, for example, is alive, and aware, and strongly inviting us, pulling us in its direction. There is something about it that is drawing us to it in the most compelling way. We may dream about it at night and feel its call during the day. What we feel is entirely somatic: our hearts are on fire and its call is resonating throughout our bodies. Such is the depth of somatic life, of *feeling* life, that is now becoming our way of being."

"Have you ever been present to a raindrop falling on a window sill, watched its great globule tumbling into sight, splashing on the sill, spreading out in slow motion, and exploding into a thousand specs of light? Have you ever gazed into a campfire, suddenly finding yourself within it, discovering your own state of being as nothing other than the raging inferno, burning, burning, burning, fueled by all it meets? Have you contemplated a lake and suddenly found yourself lost in its endlessly wet and watery world? Have you glanced up into a great tree only to meet an ancient presence looking back at you with immense understanding and care? Have you ever, one day, looked up at the sky and realized with a sudden, electric shock that courses through your body, that you are meeting a vast shimmering awareness, incredibly alive, that is watching you, utterly seeing you through and through, holding you within its boundless love?"

"...The mountain is our heart, the running streams, our blood; our mind, the limitless sky; our thoughts, the small passing clouds. Ultimately, we are nothing other than these."

- Touching Enlightenment