"Letting go is not such a foreign experience. We do it every night when we go to sleep. We lie down on a padded surface, with the lights out, in a quiet place, and we let go of our mind and body. If you can't let go, you can't go to sleep.
"Most of us have experienced times when the mind would just not shut down when we got into bed. This is one of the first signs of elevated stress. At these times we may be unable to free ourselves from certain thoughts because our involvement in them is just too powerful. If we try to force ourselves to sleep, it just makes things worse. So if you can go to sleep, you are already an expert in letting go. Now you just need to practice applying this skill in waking situations as well."
— Full Catastrophe Living
"In the mindful cultivation of generosity, it is not necessary to give everything away, or even anything. Above all, generosity is an inward giving, a feeling state, a willingness to share your own being with the world. Most important is to trust and honor your instincts but, at the same time, to walk the edge and take some risks as part of your experiment. Perhaps you need to give less, or to trust your intuition about exploitation or unhealthy motives or impulses. Perhaps you do need to give, but in a different way, or to different people. Perhaps most of all, you need to give to yourself first for a while. Then you might try giving others a tiny bit more than you think you can, consciously noting and letting go of any ideas or getting anything in return.
"Initiate giving. Don't wait for someone to ask. See what happens — especially to you. You may find that you gain a greater clarity about yourself and about your relationships, as well as more energy rather than less. You may find that, rather than exhausting yourself or your resources, you will replenish them. Such is the power of mindful, selfless generosity. At the deepest level, there is no giver, no gift, and no recipient . . . only the universe rearranging itself."
— Wherever You Go, There You Are
"Like any other view, non-harming may be a terrific principle, but it's the living of it that counts. You can start practicing ahimsa's gentleness on yourself, and in your life with others in any moment.
"Do you sometimes find that you are hard on yourself and put yourself down? Remember ahimsa in that moment. See it and let it go.
"Do you talk about others behind their backs? Ahimsa.
"Do you push yourself beyond you limits with no regard for your body and your well-being? Ahimsa.
"Do you cause other people pain or grief? Ahimsa. It is easy to relate with ahimsa to someone who doesn't threaten you. The test is how you relate to a person or situation when you do feel threatened.
"The willingness to harm or hurt comes ultimately out of fear. Non-harming requires that you see your own fears and that you understand them and own them. Owning them means taking responsibility for them. Taking responsibility means not letting fear completely dictate your vision or your view. Only mindfulness of our own clinging and rejecting, and a willingness to grapple with these mind states, however painful the encounter, can free us from this circle of suffering. Without a daily embodiment in practice, lofty ideals tend to succumb to self-interest."
— Wherever You Go, There You Are
Children as Zen Masters
"For me, the wild ride of Zen training seemed like it had a lot in common with parenting. They both appeared to be about waking up to life itself, with no holds barred. So it was not such a big jump to think that I could see our babies, who, like all babies, really do look like little Buddhas, with their round bellies, big heads, and mysterious smiles, as live-in Zen Masters. Zen Masters don't explain themselves. They just embody presence. They don't get hung up in thinking, or lost in theoretical musings about this or that. They are not attached to things being a certain way. They are not always consistent. One day does not necessarily have to be like the next. Their presence and their teachings can help us break through to a direct experiencing of our own true nature, and encourage us to find our own way, now, in this moment. They do this, not by telling us how, but by giving us endless challenges that cannot be resolved through thinking, by mirroring life back to us in its fullness, by pointing to wholeness. More than anything, Zen Masters embody wakefulness and call it out of us."
— Everyday Blessings
"Mindfulness is all about living the lives that are ours to live. This can only happen if we make room for our true nature to emerge — what is deepest and best in ourselves. While we may all be born miraculous beings, without proper nurturing our genius may be smothered and snuffed out for lack of oxygen. The oxygen that feeds our true nature is found in stillness, attention, love, sovereignty, and community. The challenge of mindful parenting is to find ways to nourish our children and ourselves, to remain true to the quest, the hero's journey that is a human life lived in awareness, across our entire life span, and so to grow into who we all are and can become for each other, for ourselves, and for the world."
— Everyday Blessings
The Suspension of Distraction
"In the week following 9/11, an editor at the Village Voice was asked on NPR how he perceived the effect of the disaster on the psyche of the city and its inhabitants. He characterized it as a 'suspension of distraction.' He had noticed that people were making eye contact with each other as never before, that they were communing silently with passing glances, taking in one another's faces. They did not seem to be absorbed in life's usual preoccupations and mind states. The inconceivable event, the horror of it, the huge loss of life, the evaporation of the city's two signature buildings, had plunged New Yorkers into wordless presence in the face of the enormity of what had occurred.
"The suspension of distraction. A telling phrase. Its poignancy struck home as a hopeful signature of humanity's resilience, even wisdom, in a time of great wounding and grief.
"The suspension of distraction. How amazing for a city and a society in which we are entrained into lives of virtually perpetual distraction, where everything is competing for our attention, assaulting our senses and our minds, and where we so often protect ourselves from the onslaught with distractions of our own, and in the process, forget what is most important to us, and even who we are and what we are doing."
— Coming to Our Senses