"I used to think that to become free you had to practice like a samurai warrior, but now I understand that you have to practice like a devoted mother of a newborn child. It takes the same energy, but has a completely different quality. It's compassion and presence rather that having to defeat the enemy." Jack Kornfield
The clarity and simplicity of this quote provided a visceral whiplash, snapping me to attention. To juxtapose a devoted parent and a samurai warrior gave me the chance to contemplate, even for a few seconds, the possibility that by re-framing my relationship to a practice, approaching it with compassion, rather than something I had to beat down or win (lest I lose), I might be happier.
When I think about the patience, humor, joy and concentration required to care for a newborn, I feel as if the container in which I am housed, softens, allowing breath/air to circulate. It's interesting how one can be alert yet very relaxed when taking care of newborns. How is this possible?
From my meditation practice, I've learned that rigidity about anything does not allow for devotion to manifest. There are times when fierceness is required to cut through the many mental obstacles we put in our own way. However that fierceness comes from a seat of compassion, the knowledge that we or someone else is suffering, and the wish to end that discontent, if we can.
Holding the juxtaposed view of a samurai warrior and devoted mother allows us to walk a little more lightly on the earth. When we feel ourselves tightening up on the inside, or becoming unraveled because of something someone said or did, we have the opportunity to greet that moment like a devoted mother. Devotion implies a desire to care for or serve others. Each time we loosen the hold we have on ourselves and place our focus on serving others, we are relaxing more and fighting less. The more gently we approach our daily practices, from spiritual to physical, we are giving ourselves permission to practice kindness.
It's all about one's orientation.
Why not use this week to observe yourself at work and at home. Are you practicing like a samurai warrior with your partner, colleagues or kids? If you are, can you re-frame your view to be a devoted parent? Be curious to see how you shift from one state to another. Be kind to yourself as you begin re-framing your views and actions. Patience is key.