Welcome to Stage 2: Delving Deeper
Week 4: Shamantha
We have to learn the art of Shamantha. So this week I invite you to give yourself permission to rest!
Listen to me talk about this in the audio below and I've also recorded a practice for you to go with this teaching.
Buddhist meditation has two aspects – shamantha (“stopping”) and vipashyana (“looking deeply), we tend to focus on the latter as it brings insight and wisdom however we cannot look within without first stopping.
Let me tell you a Zen teaching story:
"A horse suddenly came galloping quickly down the road.
It seemed as though the man had somewhere important to go.
Another man, who was standing alongside the road, shouted,
"Where are you going?"
and the man on the horse replied,
"I don't know! Ask the horse!"
Does this feel familiar?
This is an ancient Zen teaching story. The horse represents our habits, and it shows us how we generally live at the mercy of our patterns, behaviours and general busy-ness that we haven't intentionally chosen but which has chosen us by society and life.
In the story, the horse is in control. It's pulling us along, making us run here and there, hurrying everywhere and yet we generally don't even know why. If you stopped to ask yourself from time to time why exactly you're running around so much, sometimes you might have an answer, but it's never a very good one. You're just used to it, perhaps that’s how you're used to living, a habit and something that you've practiced maybe your whole life. But as much as we run, it gets us nowhere. It's like running on a treadmill but never reaching our destination. There will always be lists, there will always be things to do, there will always be pressures and expectations etc
We have to learn the art of stopping, to transcend the agitation that has us hopping from one thing to the next. TV channel flicking, endless scrolling through your phone. You pick up a book and put it back down.
How do you stop?
By practicing mindful meditation, mindful walking, mindful smiling etc
The busier we are, the more we need to rest. Otherwise we burn out, get sick or have an accident. It's a balance of do-ing and be-ing, so that we can be busy when we need to be busy and then rest when we are meant to be resting.
Stopping allows us to rest and rest is a precondition for healing. When animals in the forest get wounded, they find a place to rest and they stay there for many days. They don’t think about food or anything else, the focus on resting and in so doing they heal.
When we get wounded we panic and worry, we reach for the lotion, potion or pill to make things better. We make an appointment for the doctor or look to medicine but we don’t stop. We do all of the above so that we can keep going and we don’t have to stop.
Until next week and a reminder that the webinar for stage 2 is on Tuesday 4th August (day after the bank holiday here in Ireland) at 8pm GMT.