"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I don't much care where—" said Alice.
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.
Determination is the thoughtful process of figuring out where we want to go, and the strong commitment to follow through. I don’t know what your aspiration is, but I do know that you have one, and that you will be happier, and more peaceful if you know what it is. Yoga means union, everybody has one, and we manifest our intentions in the small choices we make every day, or not.
In our mindfulness practice, when we are practicing, we are already fulfilling our aspiration to awaken. Full open hearted presence is the path and the goal.
There is no reason for failure. If you don’t practice at all, surely there’s nothing to gain. But if you practice, you cannot fail. The moment you’re doing it, you’re already profiting- Sayadaw U Tejaniya
Whatever we are doing, we can take our practice with us. An ancient word for mindfulness is 'sati' , to keep in mind. Bringing awareness to our thoughts, choosing patience, taking a few conscious breaths, may seem like small things, but they are not. To change our behavior is to embody change on a cellular level.
Be your own hero. Determination is the hero's journey of facing dragons. Heroes don’t look the other way, or define themselves by obstacles, they define themselves by their quest. To be happy, we need to be engaged with an aspiration larger than ourselves, one worthy of struggle. To choose to endure discomfort ( for good reasons!) is empowering. Obstacles can concentrate our energy, sharpen our minds, and challenge our self-limiting ideas. Facing our fears diminishes them.
Just like we prune our trees to energize healthy limbs and grow beautiful fruit, eliminating distractions creates the space we absolutely need to thrive in a chosen direction.
As with any journey, you do best to take along only the bare essentials so that you don't weigh yourself down. -Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Determination requires a foundation of faith and kindness. Faith in yourself, faith in your aspiration as being worthwhile, and the willingness to let go of what you don't need.
To be committed means to give ourselves fully, and to do this, we need to have found confidence in our own hearts. Ayya Khema
And we need compassion for ourselves, because falling down, and getting back up is part of any real journey.
I have no doubt that those who attempt to transform their minds, overcome their disturbing emotions and achieve a sense of inner peace, will, over a period of time, notice a change in their mental attitudes and responses to people and events. Their minds will become more disciplined and positive. And I am sure they will find their own sense of happiness grow as they contribute to the greater happiness of others. I offer my prayers that everyone who makes this their goal will be blessed with success. H.H. Dalai Lama
thanks for reading! may your week be guided by your determination and thoughtfulness.
Our Monday evening practice group at the Methow Valley Wellness Center has grown up! It began as a direct outgrowth, of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Course. Each week I offer reflections on a specific topic, this blog is an excerpt. The process of preparing the talk has become an important dimension of my practice, for which I am deeply grateful.
I draw reflections from the psychological and philosophical aspects of Buddhist teachings, and a wide range of Western psychology, evolutionary psychology, neuro-science, and culture. I try to leave a few minutes for questions. Questions asking me to clarify the teachings are welcomed! Scheduling a private appointment is the best way to explore personal issues, or to generally deepen practice.