The 4th precept of being a compassionate companion is: Find a place of rest in the middle of things.
If you haven’t read my introduction or the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Precepts, please check them out — see related articles below this post.
I have so enjoyed going back over Frank’s tapes while writing these posts. The last time I really spent any time with them, any time really meditating on them as a practice in and of themselves was on a trip to San Francisco for school a few years ago. I remember taking pictures of them on the wall of a nursing home where they were posted.
I already had listened to the tapes, knew about ZHP, and was reading all of the literature I could on Upaya Zen Center‘s program for Being With Dying. I was thrilled to see them on a wall in a building and not just in a book. Being so far from some of the major centers for Buddhism and End-of-Life, my work with and adaptation of Buddhist practices for counseling has been a lonely journey. I was “doing” hospice in a very stoic part of the Midwest and I was really trying to find the essence of the teachings to make them less threatening for the area.
But now, as I finish the series and am spending time meditating on them, I am passing them off to my dad who still has a few weeks to go before starting his own hospice volunteer training and I wonder what he will think of them when he starts to listen to them.
Find a place of rest in the middle of things.
In his training, Frank talks about the rest in the middle of things as spaciousness in the midst of chaos. This place to rest is our settling into the moment. It is cultivating our mindfulness of what is in front of us.
When we practice breathing meditation, we focus on the in breath and the out breathe but we often don’t focus the moments that come just before we move from exhale to inhale. It is that spaciousness, that calm that can feel elusive in our rushing around in daily life. Take a moment now and follow your breath. Don’t try to change it, just notice it.
And sometimes this takes practice. It seems so silly to think that we need to practice attending to our breath and yet thousands of times a day, it goes disregarded. Can you sense the space? Can you let your attention light on that moment before your lungs begin to expand again? As you practice your breathing over the next few days, set your intention that it will be this in-between state that you allow yourself to be in as it arises.
Find a place to rest in the middle of things.
Frank reminds us that this tranquility is always available to us and we just have to tap into it. I guess a more appropriate way of stating it would be that we need to allow ourselves to be free enough to have an appreciation and awareness of this still point.
In this moment of stillness, there is no trying to fix, no manipulating, no being different, just acceptance. There is an ease that comes as we allow ourselves to sink down into the non doing and relax into being.
As we foster this time to be more and more aware of our inherent pause for stillness, we open our hearts more deeply, and we can allow for more to come into our awareness. We foster this gentleness and it softens our hearts and helps us get more in touch with our buddha nature.
Don’t wait for tomorrow or for your own deathbed. Find a place to rest in the middle of things here and now.
- “Welcome Everything, Push Away Nothing” (namasteconsultinginc.com)
- Attention, Attention (namasteconsultinginc.com)
- “Don’t Wait.” (namasteconsultinginc.com)
- “Bring Your Whole Self to the Experience” (namasteconsultinginc.com)
- Healthy Care for the Caregiver: The Four Composures (namasteconsultinginc.com)