Sunday, July 26, 2015

Every Fiber: On Training Wholeheartedly

Kohler's Pig, by Michael Sowa
I know it's been a couple of weeks, but taking last Sunday off from this blog was one of the kindest things I could do for myself. It was a weekend for being in a weird head space, and getting through and out took most of my energy.

It also gave me experiences that prepared me for this next tenet:
Train wholeheartedly.
"Wholehearted" is one of my favorite words, so it definitely made me smile to see it in the cards I use to guide me through this study. I knew, in an instant, what this teaching means. I still turned to my usual resources for help deepening my understanding. had the exact same translation (it's hard to imagine a different way of saying this), and their brief explanation held no surprises for me:
"Going through the motions isn't enough. You chose to practice. Pour your heart into it."
In fact, this website is where I got the idea for the picture up there. Michael Sowa is one of my favorite artists. He puts animals in situations that make them seem almost human, and that pig jumping into a pond with an expression of utter glee... it really does embody the idea of wholeheartedness, of doing things with every fiber of your being.

I still turned to Judy Lief for a little more depth, and that's exactly what I found:
"Sometimes people think the Buddhist practices are all about mind, nothing else. But the notion of whole-heartedness is that you really feel what you feel and that you feel it completely. You should bring your heart and your emotions into the practice so that you can feel more and more deeply the contrast between ego-imprisonment and freedom."
Bam. That difference between "ego-imprisonment and freedom" is exactly the kind of thing I've been experiencing this week. That is where I'm living, both in my head and my heart. Realizing that I'm floundering a bit but not actually stuck is part of what's happened. And it's a big part of why I'm feeling much more wholehearted than I have in years.

Lief's parting advice will be particularly helpful to me, moving forward:
"Pay attention to the boundary between wholehearted practice and a more vague and lukewarm approach. Notice your thinking process, your bodily sensations and emotional undercurrents. What happens at those moments in which you click in and are really practicing?"
So that's what I'll be working on. Until next time, namaste and all that.

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