Small Practices For Uncertain Times

ZPI encourages reflections from retreat participants, staff, members & others touched by our work and others doing similar work from around the world, as part of the practice of bearing witness. Our friend Bonnie Myotai Treace, Spiritual Director at Hermitage Heart Zen near Black Mountain, North Carolina, shared these simple practices for these days of rapid change, uncertainty and fear. This is a repost from her personal Blog.

One Small Practice: Gassho Mind

Someone approaches and you need them not to get closer.
There will be a flicker of fear or anxiety. Exhale.
Say, “Please stop there” and bring your hands palm-to-palm
into gassho, the mudra of intimacy.
Step back a bit if you need to.
Smile and meet their eyes warmly.
Let yourself feel their vulnerability, along with your own.
It is okay to take care of yourself in this and other ways.
Even more important: don’t let fear close your heart.

Another Small Practice: Show It

We are the right sangha, the right community
for this challenge.
Every day find a way, big or small, to show care for another.
At least one. Every day.
Each of us will as always have different opportunities,
vulnerabilities, and capacities.
Elders and the ill have wisdom and patience, given long experience with loss, resilience, and how attitude is everything. Offer these lovingly.
Write the note; whisper the word, etc., ad infinitum.
Those younger and able have energy,
chances to be creative in how they serve,
the quickness to see what needs changing.
Offer these. Everyday.
Clean, garden, cook
write innovative programs,
create the next world.
Let’s just start, and shift from self-preoccupation
to the activities of bodhisattvas.

A Third: Memorial Heart

Grief is coming, is here, will be here.
Make space and time for it.
Love, appreciation, reflection, and sorrow:
You will need to sit quietly and let these happen.
We need to be real, are capable of being real,
and are called on to be real.
So, for at least five minutes
let grief in. Let it have its way.
There are doctors, nurses and caregivers
dying right now for their patients, for us.
Moms have died. Dads. Beloveds in every country.
And there will be millions upon millions more.
To be real is to feel this.
Otherwise, we’re in denial.
“I will not forget you.”
Set a timer if you need to, something to call you back.
Exhale. Feel your breath. Be where you are.
Vow to not take the people around you
or gone from you
for granted.

About the Author:

Bonnie Myotai Treace is a Zen priest, stubbornly a poet, and resoundingly feminist. For many years she was a Zen teacher, or ”Sensei,” at Zen Mountain Monastery (as Vice-abbot) and the Zen Center of New York City (as Abbot). She is the founder and spiritual director of Hermitage Heart Zen.

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Small Practices For Uncertain Times

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