With Zen practice, sometimes I find myself just going through the motions; sometimes I feel a peaceful integration; and sometimes I get an enlightened glimpse of living.
Yesterday while doing the evening dishes a question popped up…What would it feel like not to worry? …Not surprisingly, I have a bunch of things festering just now.
I explored the things that were bothering me and they were all based on how I wanted the future to be.
It was pretty much the standard list: “be liked”, “be appreciated”, “be secure”, and more importantly, their opposites. I don’t want to be “disliked”, “unappreciated”, and “incompetent”.
When I thought more about my question – none of these fears were occurring “right now”…standing there washing dishes. Only my head was in future world; my hands were in the sink. To the extent I could let go of future world my fears abated. It was me and dishes. Warm water. Suds. An occasional squeak.
This led to the next aha. I am always practicing.
I am either practicing living in and with the present – focused on my connection with the world and others through awareness, loving-kindness and compassion, or I’m practicing how to bend, shape, and control my little ego based world.
No wonder Zen is so hard. I am continually reinforcing what my ego desires at the expense of true connection. The weirder thing is, I’m doing a bad job at both. All that ego churn is uncomfortable, unproductive and ridiculously time consuming.
Ah, ego…my crazy little friend. It makes me, me. Over the years it has developed a personality. It has some habits I like and others I’d like to change. What I’m coming to understand is that we are good friends when my ego and I are aligned in awareness and compassion with our world. When our focus is outward.
But when my ego turns inward and focuses on me…things fall apart. The fears and mental loops trap me. It’s anxious and uncomfortable.
And that’s where I was when I was washing the dishes before I realized I was practicing mental anxiety instead of connection.
I’m always practicing.