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Compassion Practice

Compassion Practice
~ Cynthia Garner Scrimshaw ~

The Practice of Compassion is rooted in the heart, at the very core of our being. It is the essence and ultimate expression of my own spiritual practice, and that of Buddhism, Christianity and other World Religions. Practicing compassion opens the heart and awakens us. In the practice of compassion, we discover our innate resilience that helps us cope with life challenges and personal suffering, and strength to hold empathy for others. Simultaneously, it offers us a way to deepen heart-felt feelings of love, joy, and connection with all sentient and non-sentient beings and the world we live in, and finding deeper meaning in our daily life.

So what does this practice look and feel like? How can one move concepts out of the mind into the true experience? I adore the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh. He has helped me simplify and develop my practice of compassion, such as mindfully drinking a cup of tea when feeling stressed, or moving my computer out of my lap to make the space for one of my cats, Ani or Bodhi, so that we can taste the sweetness of silent and healing connection with one another. This is a simple practice of compassion—being mindful, intentional and opening one’s heart to the beautiful experience of living each moment.

Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis
on which the world earth revolves—slowly, evenly, 
without rushing toward the future;
Live the actual moment.
             Only this moment is life.
                
                                                                                ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

With every mindful, benevolent and intentional moment we can develop a strong compassion practice. It is not about seeking perfection, but it is in living a conscious and meaningful life. We forget, we loose track, we get lost and bounced around with the stress of reacting to external events or internal musings. Then we remind ourselves “Oh yes, I remember what I truly want—let me return to my true home and where I want to live”. The practice of compassion develops and deepens as we remind ourselves before we get too far adrift. We begin to recognize it feels so much better to live in the present moment with all of the ups and downs of life, than it is to get lost in the mire of anger, blame, shame, isolation, or even the over indulgence of pleasure as an avoidance to facing something “uncomfortable”. 

With a focused compassion practice, we will get off our path less frequently,  and when we inevitably do, we find it much easier to find our way back— embracing the journey that is our true nature…

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What are you Searching For?

What are you Searching For?
~ Norman Scrimshaw ~

Behind all our desires we are seeking peace, joy, wisdom, love, and connection. These are natural to who you truly are.

~You are already that which you are seeking~

Often we are not experiencing this natural state of being. We are identified with a mind that assumes we are lacking something that we need.  This mind churns to seek what is missing that would complete us where we feel deficient. It could be more money, a new relationship, a better job, a house, or land. Perhaps if we had more friends, we would be happy…  Some seek power to feel more safe—“if only people would behave towards me the way they should”. Getting what we want may help us feel better for a time, but the feeling of “something is missing” returns. It is never enough. Those who seek spiritual experiences can fall into the same trap of believing in a mind that is never satisfied. The light is not bright enough. The experience didn’t last. Eventually the disappointing experience rises as “I lost it” or “I need a bigger experience” and so on. 

~You are not the endless parade of thoughts that run through your head~

In the stories that you hear in your mind—sometimes you are wonderful, sometimes a failure. You may give yourself status in comparing yourself with others. Your identity may be tied in with your profession, your possessions, your religion or philosophy—and your passions. Identifying with what you are not is the cause of your suffering. 

~ It is in knowing what you truly are, that you are free.

I am here to remind you there is nothing missing. You are already complete and whole in who you truly are. You are Awareness itself. You are the attention that sees and holds the thoughts, feelings, and experiences.  In deep silence, we can begin to experience the qualities of what is awake in you, unconditional love, peace, joy, contentment, compassion and wisdom. In the beginning our attention may be so identified and entangled with thoughts, that experience of truth may feel limited.

In meditation we begin to experience a gap between thoughts and consciousness itself. As we begin to experience a gap between our thoughts and awareness itself, we begin to have a choice to simply notice thoughts without claiming them as ours. With the recognition of a space where thoughts arise of their own volition, we can give our attention to thoughts that are in service to a joyful and fulfilling life which is reflective of our True Nature. We can learn to turn away from a fixation with an indulgent soap opera of our stream of consciousness. We can then rest in the quiet peace of our own essence. 

So many thoughts arising filling every gap of silence, when attached to as ours they separate us from the beauty of the direct experience of this present moment. They pull us into dullness and suffering. Without attention thoughts fade away. To the degree you give any thought attention as real, more thoughts arise in support.

No thought that arises in consciousness is ours. They never were. They come and go at their own accord. If we choose not to give attention and reality to a thought, it has no power in our lives. 

No thought can hold the whole truth. At best, a thought holds partial truth. A thought that carries suffering carries no truth at all. Instead of claiming thoughts as ours, From spaciousness we discover that we can hold thoughts we carefully choose lightly and let them go when their usefulness has past. 

We need thoughts to live as a human being. We use thoughts as tools, knowing they are not truth itself. There are practical thoughts needed in life which involve things such as making grocery lists, solving problems, and budget planning. There is also a place for thoughts beyond the practical. Creative, playful, loving and connecting thoughts are all part of our natural expression.

Much of the time our mind is busy producing thoughts and words which we accept in an unconscious way.  So many of these thoughts are noise and not in service to our being.  As we learn to recognize thoughts and thought patterns that create separation and suffering, we have the opportunity to let them go before they take root. When we choose to use thoughts more wisely, we can notice thoughts, then turn our attention away from thoughts that don’t uplift us. The mind begins to quiet. We then find ourselves enjoying many more sweet moments of silence in simple Beingness where Joy is Alive.

Ultimately, we are the loving presence that holds all experience. We also are living on this Earth as human beings with its many challenges, confusion, and conditioning to overcome. At times, we may feel separation. We can learn to trust the great love that we are as ever present, always shining its light on our humanness. It softens, heals and comforts even the most wounded places of our human experience. We feel its warmth 

Then we know again… All is Well

If We Build It, Will You Come?

We wake up each morning in gratitude to be living surrounded by such natural beauty here in the White Mountains. For many years, we have had a vision of building a yurt as a sacred space on this land. There is a new stirring in our hearts that the time is NOW! We are feeling a deepening in awakening that needs expression. We keep getting an image of the movie, “Field of Dreams”. A voice in our hearts speaks, “If you build it, they will come”.

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There are other voices in our Heads, that say…
“Are you crazy?”
“It is too expensive”
“You are supposed to be retired and are too old to start something like this”
“No one will come this far into the wilderness”

We have decided to follow the voice in our hearts. 

The deposit has been made and it’s non-refundable! We anticipate the “raising” of the 25-foot diameter yurt to happen the beginning of October 2018.

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Below is the site where the yurt will rest. Look carefully for the Prayer flags that are flying over the sacred space that has been chosen.

More news and pictures to come, as we share the progress.

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The Call to Serve…

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When we decided to retire a few years ago, we envisioned spending our time enjoying the natural world and our home, doing more traveling, reading, and a sundry of other activities. 

We have done a lot of this, yet what we realized after deep inner listening, is that we both are called again to serve others. Serving others in awakening to the beauty of their hearts, we continue to deepen a sweet intimacy in our own true nature and love for life.         

Norman and Cynthia

© Awakening to the Heart -  2018