We are feeling discouraged and dismayed from the lack of participation in the book club and the other resources we hunt up for you. The fact that we try to keep most of the conversations accessible regardless of experience or preparation is not us encouraging you to slack off. A lack of preparation should be the exception, not the rule. We do put a significant amount of time into preparing discussion for the sangha each Sunday. The general lack of participation has made us think about strategies to help increase engagement with the material. We’d like to share some of our thoughts, here.
First and foremost, a reminder and a call to action. The results of this practice are directly tied to the efforts made in the practice. Beware (be aware) that for most of us, the intellectual mind speaks the loudest and often if the intellectual mind “gets it,” we feel the work is done. We encourage you to look underneath your intellectual understanding to something deeper–an understanding that unifies intellect with body and unconscious intuition. Can you live your understanding fully, in each moment of your life?
In short, you will get out of this what you put into it.
Secondly, and more explicitly, we are going to start moving in the direction of offering exercises that you can investigate on your own in preparation for the Sunday meeting. We will encourage you to write down what you thought about for two reasons. 1) Writing helps memory. 2) Writing helps deepen engagement. So in the next week or two, please find yourself a journal–a physical one, a virtual one, or even a simple word processing document that you can print or read off your phone. And before you roll your eyes all the way back please note that both of us have a distinct distaste for journaling about practice, but in the course of our training has found it invaluable for engaging with group practice.
Related to that point, if you find it hard to find time, make time. Does that sound ironic? What we mean is, actually schedule the time to do the work. Maybe Tuesday and Thursday from 10am – 10:10am is all you’ve got. Great! Use it well. It can be so easy to get tied up in distraction. Remember that this is your one and only chance to live this moment. And even whether you believe in life after death or not, the Zen slogan still rings true: “Do not SQUANDER your life!” Perhaps that sounds overdramatic to you and that’s fine. We ardently wish that you make the most of your time doing the things that are meaningful to you. To us, your continued involvement in LMC suggests that this is meaningful to you. We want to encourage you to break through any complacency, laziness, fear, or unnecessary busyness.
That brings us to this week. Please read and reflect on this very short and entertaining article about changing your “perspectacles” to see the ordinary things in your life as things you are grateful for. Then, take some time to investigate what things in your own life you might be able to look at in a different way. Make note of your reflections in your journals as you ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I taking anything in my life for granted?
- What happens if I try to look at the world outside of my official living space with new eyes?
- Is there any emotional reaction to this way of seeing, e.g., do I feel happy, sad, overwhelmed, etc.?
- Is there any sense of guilt for not looking this way previously or all the time?
- Do I find this exercise useless and, if so, why?
- Does this help me to be more mindful in my life?
- Is there anything else I could share with the sangha?
Finally, although the tone of this post is stern, we want you to understand that we are doing our best to be encouraging. We are so wide open to suggestions, criticisms, applause, and any other type of feedback. Please help us build a strong and vibrant community. We really want this to be a community of practitioners rather than a community of parishioners!