What’s the most important right now?

I listened to a radio essay written and read by a Norwegian winter athlete. (Sommer og vinter i P2 med Liv Grete Skjelbreid). She mainly talked about one thing she did before competitions and now is doing it through daily life.

She asks herself: What’s the most important right now?

As I listened to this, I was making bread, noticed I got a little stressed for a variety of reasons and asked myself that question.

What’s most important right now?

For me, I saw it wasn’t the bread. The bread will be good enough. It will be gone in a day or two anyway. I can always make more bread and do it differently. What’s the most important right now is how I am. That I am enjoying myself. In this way, I found a way to allow myself to relax.

The question helped me connect with what’s most important to me right now. It reminded me of the bigger picture.

And the answer will be different in each situation, and it may also change over time for us.

The question is really about what’s more important for me right now than what I temporarily get caught up in.

It helps me explore this and perhaps find a new layer of what’s more essential for me.

And the question helps remind me of this bigger picture.

And, as Adyashanti says, we can also use this question to explore and remind ourselves of what’s most important in our exploration of life in general.

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Resting with and investigating an uncomfortable feeling

I woke up from a slightly uncomfortable dream and with an uncomfortable feeling in my body. I know from experience that discomfort is created by my own mind, so I can explore it and see what’s really there.

So I rest with the sensations. I notice where I feel the uncomfortable feeling, and notice the sensations making them up. I notice these sensations are already allowed. I take time feeling them. I say “welcome home” to them. I continue resting with them – noticing and allowing.

Then I see if there are any images connected with it. I notice a dark texture overlaid on an image of my upper body. I notice and rest with that image.

I check for words, but none come.

I check for resistance to the uncomfortable feeling, or any other experience that’s here now. Do I want it to go away or change? Where in my body do I feel that want? I do find some resistance to the uncomfortable feelings, a wish for it to change or go away. I notice it in my upper chest and face, and especially the jaw. I notice, allow, and rest with those sensations.

Rest and inquiry can be used throughout the day, in just about any situation. And it can be quite simple, and doesn’t need to take a long time. (Although watch for the tendency to want to shorten it to avoid feeling or meeting an experience.)

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Ways of working with Natural Rest and Living Inquiries in daily life

Here are some ways I am using Natural Rest and the Living Inquiries in daily life:

Natural Rest

Brief moments of natural rest. Notice what’s here, allow.

Shift from thinking to noticing thought.

Notice it’s already allowed. (What’s here, this experience.)

Check in, notice sensations, images, words.

Living Inquiries

Ask myself “what would I have to feel now if I didn’t X?” (Do the compulsive behavior – thinking, talking, socializing, eating, reading articles online, listening to a podcast etc.) And feel that.

Notice uncomfortable sensations, feel them. Notice resistance, where I feel it, and feel it.

Notice a mental image or words, visualize them on a wall, notice the space all around. (Boundless space, between me and the image or words, all around the image or words.)

Ask simple questions about sensations, images, words. Is it X? (A threat? The actual future? The actual past?)

Ask “what does this say about me?” and find a deficient or inflated self. I can then put that word or picture on the wall, or feel the sensations, or ask simple questions about the words, images, and sensations.

Make it simple

Make it simple. So simple and comfortable that I would want to do it forever. Find a way to do it so I would want it to be a natural, easy and ongoing part of daily life.

Notice how natural it is. Natural rest is just being the presence I already am. Living Inquiries is just the looking and curiosity that’s natural to us.

Additional notes:

The images can be just as they are. They are not always clear, and that’s fine. They can be a clear picture of something fuzzy.

The words can be very simple. Often, it’s just one word. This morning, I felt sad, noticed it, noticed the word “sad”, visualized it on the wall, noticed the space all around it. I also had a picture of a former partner, visualized her on the wall, and noticed the space all around.

More recently, I had the word “unlovable” come up, and visualized that on the wall, noticing the space all around. I am also feeling the sensations connected with that word (identity), and noticing them as sensations.

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Snorkeling as inquiry

Snorkeling can be inquiry.

As a kid, I had some fears of what may be lurking under the surface as I swam in open water, so I took up snorkeling. I explored what was underwater, and saw it was OK. It became a second home for me.

Inquiry happens in ordinary life, in many different ways.

I have a stressful thought, talk with a friend, and get a different perspective. I see that reality is a bit different than I told myself.

I am afraid of heights, climb up on the 3 meter diving platform, jump off, and see it’s OK. I do it again, and again, and become more comfortable with it. I see that heights are not as scary for me as I thought it would be.

I am curious about yoga, so try it out and noticed how it is for me.

Formalized inquiry is the same, it’s what we already do in daily life. The only difference is that formalized inquiry is more structured, and has specific pointers.

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What does it mean if there is no other?

here are several ways we can discover that there is no Other. There are lots of others, of course, in a conventional sense, but also not in a few different ways.

First, I can notice that how I relate is how I relate to anything happening within experience, including myself, others, the wider world, life and God. Said more accurately, how this human self relates, is how it relates to others, life and itself. The I-Other boundary is there in a practical sense – as this human self and the rest of the world – but not in terms of this human self being able to relate to others or life in a way different from how it relates to itself.

Then, I can notice that the wider world is a mirror for me. Whatever characteristics and dynamics I see in the wider world mirrors what is right here. I cannot find anything in others that I don’t find right here now. Here too, the I-Other boundary is there in a practical sense, but not in terms of seeing something in the wider world and not also seeing and feeling it right here.

Finally, noticing what I really am – that which states and experience happens within, to and as – I find that there is no Other. It is all awareness itself taking different forms. The conventional I-Other boundary is still there, noticed as a mental field creation and having a practical function. But there is no I-Other inherent in what is.

In each of these cases, there is a difference between just noticing this and working with it occasionally, and seeing and feeling it more thoroughly, getting more familiar with it through returning to it over and over, and take the consequences of it in daily life.

How does this human self relate to itself and the world, within this context? What does it mean for this human self? How does it look, in daily life?  How does it look, in this specific situation?

Noticing all of this as awareness itself, what does that mean for how this human self relates to itself and the wider world? How does it live its life within the context of all as awareness itself?

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Retreat re-entry

Going into or coming out of retreats, there is an invitation for me to ask: How much difference is there for me between retreat and daily life? How do I experience that difference?

And if the difference is quite noticeable, there is an invitation for another question: How – if at all – am I drawn to bring my practice more into daily life? How would that look?

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