My Practice

Do you have a practice?

For many years I heard this question but could not say yes to it. After I left my long term marriage in 2001, I found that I needed to start each day with some type of spiritual reading. I found many great resources that would get me through each day.

As you have already read about much of my journey, I would like to share with you a reading from the book that has helped me through the decision to transition and the transition itself. It is Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening; Having the Life You want by Being Present to the Life You Have. (Conari Press, 2000)

As we know the biggest day of First Event 2013 is Saturday, and this year it will be January 26, 2013. The reading for January 26 is appropriate for all of us, and I am sharing it below. (I have nothing to add after you read this – I hope that you will enjoy it and think about your practice).

Grace Anne Stevens
Co-Chair, First Event 2013

January 26
Being Kind – 1

You often say, “I would give, but only to the deserving.” The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pastures. They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.

– Kahil Gibran

The great and fierce mystic, William Blake said, There is no greater act than putting another before you. This speaks to a selfless giving that seems to be at the base of meaningful love. Yet having struggled for a lifetime with letting the needs of others define me, I’ve come to understand that without the healthiest form of self-love – without honoring the essence of life that this thing called “self” carries, the way a pod carries a seed – putting another before you can result in damaging self-sacrifice and endless co-dependence.

I have in many ways over many years suppressed my own needs and insights in an effort not to disappoint others, even when no one asked me to. This is not unique in me. Somehow, in the course of learning to be good, we have all been asked to wrestle with a false dilemma: being kind to ourselves or being kind to others. In truth, though, being kind to ourselves is a requisite to being kind to others. Honoring ourselves is, in fact, the only lasting way to release a truly selfless kindness to others.

It is, I believe, as Mencius, the grandson of Confucius, says, that just as water unobstructed will flow downhill, we, given the chance to be what we are, will extend ourselves in kindness. So, real and lasting practice for each of us is to remove what obstructs us so that we can be who we are, holding nothing back. If we can work toward this kind of authenticity, then the living kindness – the water of compassion – will naturally flow. We do not need discipline to be kind, just an open heart.

From Mark Nepo’s, The Book of Awakening

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