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Practice Without Integration is a Waste

--by Krishna Das (Mar 17, 2014)


I once met Roshi Philip Kapleau, the author of The Three Pillars of Zen. He was one of the first Westerners to go to Japan and do intense practice there. He was suffering from very advanced Parkinson's disease and had terrible physical discomfort, along with the involuntary spasms that come from the disease. One thing he said to me really stuck. As he was sitting there, writhing, he looked into my eyes and said with great intensity, "It doesn't matter how much practice you do. If you don't bring it into your daily life, it is all a waste." The power of this statement came from the depths of his realization and his daily battle with Parkinson's, and it shot straight into my heart.
 
We don't want to walk around afraid. We don't want to walk around feeling hurt and separate. We don't want to continue carrying around all the feelings of betrayal and pain that we've experienced in all of the relationships of our lives. No matter how much meditation, chanting, yoga poses, or any other practice we do, it's very hard to remove the fears that come up in our daily lives and the feeling of being isolated from the rest of the world. But the result of a true spiritual practice ultimately must be the lessening of that fear and isolation. We can't be judging ourselves if we're really singing or offering ourselves or someone else lovingkindness. These are the moments we're taking energy away from unconscious programs that run all the time in our heads about how small we are or how unworthy we are of love and affection.
 
We have a lot to worry about in our daily lives, a lot of stress. We move very fast and often get lost in the unconscious flow of our days. We can't control the things outside of us. We can't make people act the way we want them to act. We can't even make ourselves act the way we want to act! The good news is that our feeling of unworthiness, our self-judgment, is just stuff; it's not who we are. Stuff comes and stuff goes. What doesn't come and go is who we really are and what we really are. To experience this, we need a spiritual practice.

When we are doing a practice and begin to experience lighter states of being, we start to recognize that being greedy, fearful, jealous, angry, pushy, and manipulative in our relationships actually hurts. When we're stuck in one of those heavy states - which for most of us is all we've known - who suffers more than we do? Nobody. We may feel righteous about our heaviness and think that somebody else caused our suffering, but we're the ones who are burning! At these moments, it's very hard to practice. For example, if I'm really upset about something, it's very hard to sit down and chant. Sometimes I have to burn for a while until I can begin to let go and return to my practice.

-- Krishna Das, excerpted from Chants of a Lifetime


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On Mar 25, 2014 Erica Eden wrote:

 Most nights I sit in bed and meditate for up to 45 minutes. I see the thoughts fade to the background of consciousness. Then I drift off somewhere for the sit's duration. Some nights, too tired to sit up I prop pillows to elevate my head, start the chime, and begin to meditate, and eventually drift into a calm deep sleep. I trust that the beginning chime and the ending chime marking the usual period of time I sit, have become a signal, even though I am sleeping for the last chime, that I have integrated whatever is necessary to continue the process. No forcing, just allowing what is needed to move forward. Gentle, sweet. Grateful for the Dharma.



On Mar 19, 2014 Ganoba wrote:

 Practice is action, not intellectual discussion of a topic. For practice to lead to learning it needs to be experimental. In experimental practice we are not looking for a definite outcome. Observation/mindfulness is an essential part of experimentation, observing what is being done and the consequences there of both within us and outside. This needs to be done playfully. We need to do it in different settings. This allows the learning to go beyond a fixed space-time box and becomes universally applicable. This also allows it to get integrated and internalized. Subsequent action would then become automatic not a matter of cultural choice making.
This how I practice and it has carried me forward on the spiritual path smoothly.



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On Mar 19, 2014 Jagdish P Dave wrote:

 I learned spiritual practice by experiencing spiritual values such as love, compassion, truthfulness, service and kindness. The foundation of spiritual learning was constructed in my childhood. It is like planting the seeds and slowly growing and blooming. To me it is an ongoing process. It is a way of living. I am not perfect and there are times when I deviate from this path. With mindfulness, I come back and contnue my journey. Meditation, following my bliss and serving and helping others with love and gratefulness fills the cup of my life.

Namaste.

Jagdish P Dave




1 reply: Jo | Post Your Reply
On Mar 19, 2014 lakshmi wrote:

 The last activity of mine before going to sleep is to meditate. The days events and actions makes my mind restless and body tired. So the meditation helps. I just sit and put my mind inside my body, it travels and points out various places of aches and pain. I start with breathing without watching. Slowly i begin with mind in and mind out breathing. Then the mind settles below the navel. The conscious stomach breathing helps. After five minutes, I can feel the mind calmer and body relaxed. I practice for 20 minutes and then go to sleep. This integrates my body and mind. We cannot change people nor can we accept all the bad vibes thrown at us. But we can certainly eliminate those negative feeling by integrating mind and body and throw out the negatives. After practice I find that my reaction to people's meanness has lessened. Good sleep and energetic awakening in the morning. I'm neither the victim nor the victor. I'm the whole 'ME'!



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On Mar 18, 2014 Deb Hill wrote:

Everyday I practice meditation - usually Dr. Joe Dispenza's meditations on re-wiring my brain from living in survival to living as creator of my experience. I practice being in the now over and over everyday because I go into unconciousness over and over everyday. I practice radical forgiveness of myself and others by realizing there is nothing to forgive because nothing happened. I ask God to help me truly see when I am playing the victim role so I can chose something different. I practice joy by making my face smile when no other part of me is wanting to do that. I practice being the watcher of my wide-range of situations and experiences but not getting completely caught up in the illusion. All of this is "practice". I do not claim to have mastered any of it. As someone once said "I haven't arrived but I have left".



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On Mar 18, 2014 kunta wrote:

One can forgive but not forget.  Every reminder of the past occurrence  re-ignites the pain.  One loses the trust.  That is the time to guide your mind to positive thinking and be peaceful.  Fearlessness and love towards the deliverers of tsunami towards your sensitivity, ego and your physical body, will build dams strong and high enough to withstand the force of destruction of your well being.


2 replies: Amy, Christina | Post Your Reply
On Mar 18, 2014 Pius wrote:

 Every religion practises fasting some time or other. Why do we fast? So that  when life comes up with situations where I have to let go, I will be more prepared to do so. It is like in a drama. We practise and practise so that we will do well in the final performance. Practice flows into life. From life we get inspiration and energy to practise more.



1 reply: :) | Post Your Reply
On Mar 18, 2014 Naomi wrote:

 I try to remember to repeat:
Thank you for each miraculous moment and the Love, Joy and Appreciation that I am...you are...And the World Is! 



1 reply: A | Post Your Reply
On Mar 18, 2014 Pauli wrote:

 I have  learned that, for me,  it is the daily aspect of living that has to be integrated into  the  larger context of life, not the other way around. And, living in the harmony of  expanded life, all the daily things find their place naturally. Struggling to squeeze the infinite harmony we already are into an extremely finite space-time reference we call our daily lives just creates  a  futile cycle driven by bran loop thinking.  One thing that I have found helps me to stay resonant with infinite harmony is sharing aspects of my daily life that connect through oneness. For instance, in the early morning when I am out gazing at the beauty of the moon and stars and I feel that supreme peacefulness, that  I am the harmonious universe, I  let this feeling flow through me and to all others.  When I eat or drink, especially something very satisfying I let this feeling flow too with energy of love tot all those who hunger.  O  See full.

 I have  learned that, for me,  it is the daily aspect of living that has to be integrated into  the  larger context of life, not the other way around. And, living in the harmony of  expanded life, all the daily things find their place naturally. Struggling to squeeze the infinite harmony we already are into an extremely finite space-time reference we call our daily lives just creates  a  futile cycle driven by bran loop thinking. 

One thing that I have found helps me to stay resonant with infinite harmony is sharing aspects of my daily life that connect through oneness. For instance, in the early morning when I am out gazing at the beauty of the moon and stars and I feel that supreme peacefulness, that  I am the harmonious universe, I  let this feeling flow through me and to all others.  When I eat or drink, especially something very satisfying I let this feeling flow too with energy of love tot all those who hunger.  Or when I am in my warm, clean, safe bed knowing I will sleep well I send this harmonious energy to everyone who may need it.  But it is just as important to receive the feelings of love as well and let them flow through, amplified with each pass.  I cannot physically go out and feed everyone in the world, or clothe them, or assist them in whatever way they need,  but I can share the feeling of not being hungry, of being satisfied and safe, of being loved,  and knowing that life is not chopped up into so many days or so much space or dependent on circumstances but is harmonious and flowing and we can choose to flow with it..

Living is not the struggle to change oneself, it is the joy of being one(self).

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2 replies: Christina, Me | Post Your Reply
On Mar 18, 2014 Jitu wrote:

 It is so true. It reminds me of my early thoughts as a child about what religious was being preached and practiced around me. I have tried to practice, but it is hard. Our habitual patterns get in the way. It is a very good reminder and time to refocus back. Thanks. 



On Mar 18, 2014 Shirley A. wrote:

 
This particular piece was most helpful to me today.  I have to remind myself of this so often.



On Mar 18, 2014 Christina Thomas-Fraser wrote:

Acknowledging and experiencing my fear, anger, upset, etc., and "owning" these (accepting that they belong to me) and breathing will help to dilute and dissipate them. Just as good health returns after one vomits toxic contents from the stomach, the sunshine of our true spiritual nature can shine through when toxic emotions are safely experienced and emptied. Pretending that these do not exist means I will tend to project them onto other persons and events and will stay stuck. Such pretense gives rise to self-righteousness and other egoistic inflations. Having the intention and willingness to do my best to serve the divine and the highest good and accepting that I essentially am just an ordinary human being and forgiving myself and everyone else for mistakes goes a long way toward helping me to be loving in each new moment.



On Mar 18, 2014 Mish wrote:

 Try to stay centered in love/light as much as possible....life is so beautiful when I am "there"....for me & everyone around me.  When I get "off-track", bring myself back to center as quickly as I can.  Forgive myself :)). Constant awareness/observation/practice.......



1 reply: Jo | Post Your Reply
On Mar 18, 2014 davuth wrote:

 Thumb up !



On Mar 18, 2014 Abhishek Thakore wrote:

 To me, any practice that goes deep enough to change our being will necessarily percolate into other areas of our life.

A student practicing Kung-Fu every day gets attacked suddenly - instinctively the defense response will be kung-fu based. Because the practice changes the being.

Practice therefore is a deliberate, concentrated act that eventually becomes habitual, however gradually. Moroever, even the ACT of practice (irrespective of the practice) - the honoring of the practice has its own power.

In my own life, I have seen practices becomes imbibed.

The only caution is when practice comes from a space of looking good / showing to others (or self) that Hey I am practicing! This could be a time when integration doesn't happen because in our heads its actually a performance rather than a practice (I meditate an hour every day = I am cool).




On Mar 17, 2014 rajnikant wrote:

 What I have learned from the Holistic Scientist which is helping me in my daily life is "If we will observe, the first effect starts within oneself. Apart from bad feelings for others, one’s happiness inside is disturbed. When we say words that hurt, give bad opinion, or have a clash with someone, we always get disturbed first.”. That is why Adjust everywhere is a good mantra with the understanding that world is an echo of your past and you are wholly responsible for what is happening. Other people are just messangers. What goes around comes around.



On Mar 16, 2014 david doane wrote:

 Not enough, and I have integrated some of my awareness and thinking into daily living.  Awareness that we are one and belief in compassion results in my becoming in action at least a little more  compassionate, more accepting, less judgmental rather than just talk and think about those things.  My language has changed, that is, for myself I have given up talking in terms of have to, got to, should, can't, and put into practice saying what I do or don't do, will do or won't do, want or don't want, which is freeing and reempowering.  Awareness of the importance of seeing the positive, seeing what is more than seeing what isn't, results in my being more positive and grateful in action.  Learning that love without action is irrelevant provides motivation.  My integration of beliefs into daily living is slow, I suppose due to many years of habit and lack of commitment and courage.  Nothing but me is stopping my integration, and increase in commitmen  See full.

 Not enough, and I have integrated some of my awareness and thinking into daily living.  Awareness that we are one and belief in compassion results in my becoming in action at least a little more  compassionate, more accepting, less judgmental rather than just talk and think about those things.  My language has changed, that is, for myself I have given up talking in terms of have to, got to, should, can't, and put into practice saying what I do or don't do, will do or won't do, want or don't want, which is freeing and reempowering.  Awareness of the importance of seeing the positive, seeing what is more than seeing what isn't, results in my being more positive and grateful in action.  Learning that love without action is irrelevant provides motivation.  My integration of beliefs into daily living is slow, I suppose due to many years of habit and lack of commitment and courage.  Nothing but me is stopping my integration, and increase in commitment and courage enhances the process. 

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On Mar 14, 2014 Conrad P Pritscher wrote:

My sense is burning for a while is practice. Letting go is practice and returning to one's practice is practice.  When one is mindful in the present moment, one is practicing. I do not know how I integrate my practice into my daily life and I do not know what is stopping my integration. Most of what I do and say is unconscious.. Accepting my not knowing and accepting my my present state of unconsciousness helps me be more conscious. Thanks for the opportunity to respond.  Wisarm and kind regards to everyone.