Does this work?.. Yes!

                                                …Not any more..

                                                                                                       Let’s try it this way!

                            Now this way.

                                                                                                                                                         Okay, scratch that.. Let’s do it this way.

Living as a resident at CML often feels like living in a laboratory. We are constantly experimenting to learn how we can most effectively bring mindfulness to the world.

Does this work? Yes!.. Not any more… Let’s try it this way.. Now this way.. Okay, scratch that.. Let’s do it this way.

Instead of experiencing this, openly, as an exercise of impermanence and practice of non-attachment – it more often feels like a conclusively hopeless and ongoing repetition of failure (dappled with a flare of a shame here and there).

When recounting this to the head mindfulness instructor here, Soryu’s response was as follows: “This is great! The best case scenario is that we try our hardest and still fail.”

“This is great! The best case scenario is that we try our hardest and still fail”
Intellectually, I understand this.  Our learning potential is maximized when we are open to being confused, lost or not knowing. Got it!

Do I accept this experientially? Mostly no.

Instead, for most of my life, I have experienced failure as a mark of shame.

Can’t fail. Don’t fail. Can’t be wrong. Don’t let people see that you don’t know. Always right. Always right. Always right.

I’ve been aware of these thought patterns for sometime, but recently I have started to explore this insatiable desire to be right at a deeper level.  What inspired this exploration?

Ferguson.

I find myself on facebook a lot these days, following conversations about the pervasiveness of racism in our culture. I listen to all sides of the conversation and watch my thoughts and emotional reactions to what people say and what I believe. I’m often hesitant to participate. I’m not sure if this is because I want to listen and learn from the conversation or because I’m afraid to speak for fear of ‘not getting it right.’ Maybe a little bit of both. 
But as I look closer I think, “Isn’t this the time to not get it right?” – to see where my prejudices are? To open myself to learn?

I make judgments based on race, class, sex and gender a lot. And for a long time I felt ashamed of these thoughts. I thought that in order to love all life unconditionally I needed to always have loving thoughts about all life. But this isn’t true. Thank goodness! It’s actually relieving to watch my thoughts without judgement, no matter what they are.

So when I feel uncomfortable about the content of my thoughts there is good news:

1) These thoughts could very well be informing me of how to take right action in the world,

and

2) I am not my thoughts.

The alternative to living this understanding is a life nested in the delusion that I know – and, I don’t.

This delusion continues the cycle of hatred and ignorance in our country.

This is how I participate in the cycle AND this is how I can break it.

It is important to see how we participate and own that. I REPEAT, it is important to see how we participate. It’s easy to say we don’t participate with words (because who wants participate in the creation of such suffering?). Delusion is easy. It takes courage to see clearly. And I didn’t come for delusion. I came for freedom.

So I ask us all: Can we practice being “wrong”? Can we have courage to see clearly how we are participating in this cycle of ignorance?

What inspires me to say “yes” to these questions, with my whole life, is that it has become apparent that living in this way is no longer about me, about what I believe. It is about the  preservation of life. There is a force far greater than any concept I have of who I am, asking me to love all life unconditionally. And Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and the countless others who have died because these conversations never existed were beautiful, living, breathing human beings that deserved life and unconditional love.

 

-Denise Casey

To learn more about residents involved in our Monastic Mindfulness Training Program, click hereget to know our residents, engage with our programs, offering and free media and consider signing up for one of our trainings or applying to the CEDAR Monastic Mindfulness Training Program.

 

 

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Denise Casey

Denise is an artist and educator. She began teaching seven years ago, when the principal of a Jesuit school in Nepal handed her a science book and said, “teach this.” Since then her passion for experience-based learning has led her to a variety of classrooms, including outdoor education centers, yoga studios, yoga therapy and other body-based mindfulness practices.Denise is a former Program Director of the Modern Mindfulness for Schools program at the Center for Mindful Learning. Currently, she teaches mindfulness in Burlington, VT.

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