Fierce Wholeness: Cultivating The Spirit of Repetition in Awareness Practice
April 9, 2012
The sun came out in Portland today, marking the season of new beginnings. I walked out into my garden and had my first meeting with the fertile, velvety soil outside my window waiting patiently to be planted. I felt the sun’s rays on my skin beckoning, “If you could have a raw, unedited conversation with your heart… and listen for the answer from beyond your familiar reality, “What seeds would you plant now? What would you create now in life that you have never before considered possible?“
In addition to envisioning thousand-headed heirloom kale, majestic chiogga beets, purple carrots, and sweet lemon thyme wild and vibrant in my garden, what inspired me the most as I meditated with this question, was not the powerful images of what I see myself creating in my life. It was the reminder that it is the PROCESS of conscious creation, not the content of what I create, that satisfies my deepest heart’s desire. It was the acknowledgement of the degree of creative freedom that awareness practice has given me, by helping me to cultivate an appreciation and passion for the spirit of repetition in practice. It was the acknowledgement of the fierce wholeness required to be accountable to continuing to show up – again and again -to serve the heart rather than the conditioned mind… and to create from possibility rather than limitation.
It is one thing to have the inspiration or courage to sow new seeds. It is another thing entirely to steward transformation – in ourselves and in our world. Transformation is not something to take lightly. Only the spirit of repetition and committed practice cultivates CHANGE.
We are always creating. We are always receiving the spark of new ideas… some of which we set out to manifest. But most of us take the vast fire of creative possibility and unconsciously filter it through our conditioned system to such a degree that it comes out the other side as a tiny fleeting moment of victory whose light is not sustained. We regularly set out to create “something different” in our lives… a new relationship dynamic (this time it will work), a new business (this time it will make me happy), or a new body (this time I’ll keep off that 10 pounds); however, because we go about it the same way we go about everything, because we turn to our conditioned mind instead of our hearts to guide the process, in the end we are left facing the same feeling of insignificance, yearning, or dissatisfaction with which we started. When we seek to change the content of our lives as opposed to the process, our efforts are futile.
In other words, it doesn’t matter how many colorful exotic seeds we plant in our gardens, anticipating their abundant harvest. If we never STOP and turn our full attention to the soil, if we never learn how to cultivate healthy soil and make it our unquestionable priority to honor the steps that this requires, we will never allow the garden to naturally flourish and grow plants beyond what we can even imagine. In that same spirit, if we never step far enough back from ego’s agenda to cultivate the soil of compassionate awareness within ourselves, we miss an opportunity to allow for change beyond the capacity of our thinking mind. In gardening as in awareness practice, to be a steward of transformation requires daily practice and repetition.
The spirit of repetition is not particularly valued in our culture. We like instant rewards – Miracle Grow on our gardens, mood pills in our handbags, and pre-cooked food in our fridge. As passive consumers, even in spirituality, we seek shortcuts and prefer to be given the answers instead of turning within and investigating for ourselves. While there’s nothing wrong with the instant/shortcut mentality, it does not lead to freedom. It is infinitely more effective to roll up one’s sleeves and ask “What is required to become a steward of transformation?”
New meditation students sometimes ask me “Am I required to sit every day? It’s hard for me to show up consistently. I intend to but I’m so busy. I say I will but I just don’t.” The good and bad news is that there is no such thing as meditating “for a few times” to meet a goal. There is no benefit in meditating with an agenda such as “self-improvement” because meditation has NOTHING to do with any goal. Instead, the desire itself to “get to” a goal, to fix, or change life melts away in the presence of compassionate awareness. Meditation invites us to develop a taste for process and for the spirit of repetition as our one and only “goal.” Only through repetition do we embody and sustain new ways of being.
What helps along the way is to learn to savor and trust the wisdom and simplicity of repetition. We show up to meditate, regardless of if we “want to”… thus learning to show up for ourselves regardless of if we “want to.” We give our full attention to this moment, regardless of the nature of the moment. We gently and consistently inquire into our reactions regardless of the circumstance and learn to question the voice that says “you can’t” even when it feels believable. Practice asks us to meet ourselves with tenderness, kindness, and acceptance even when we do not meet our own standards. Practice asks us if we are willing to live in a world where kindness is the most important investment no matter what.
The spirit of repetition teaches us so much more than any “goal” ego sets for us to attain. Repetition teaches humility. ..unstoppability… compassionate self-discipline…and patience. Not patience from a place of assuming “this is going to take forever” – but patience from the place of gratitude and trust. “This moment by moment process of waking up is so deeply satisfying and utterly enjoyable to my core that I don’t want it to be rushed. There is so much to see and discover about myself… I want to savor every step and be present for each moment in which a new layer of my ancient conditioning is suddenly revealed to me. “
Through the practice of repetition we realize we are satisfied easily, simply by showing up and being present. And over time… we realize we have cultivated the muscles of consistency required for conscious creation… the muscles required to see a new possibility for ourselves and our lives and to embody that possibility. Again and again and again, we choose to let go of who we thought we were and what we thought was possible and move, beyond thought, to the place of ever-expanding possibility.
We are constantly creating our lives, in every moment, with every thought. We are either creating from limitation and fear or we are creating from conscious compassionate awareness and allowing ourselves to expand and grow. Consider… how are you consciously creating in your life? What is one way that you show up for yourself “no matter what” and honor the spirit of repetition? Feel free to share your reflections below.