By Marjorie Horne
I have been preparing for a workshop that I will facilitate on May 27. The central themes relate to our journey into greater awareness that requires a clear and deep attention and desire to evolve consciously. As we come to the third chapter of our life, this work is called conscious eldering, which is fitting for the time of our life and growth that we are in.
A phrase that has stuck with me since I read it a number of years ago is: “Attention and surrender are the banks through which wisdom flows.’ So how do we deepen our attention? I believe we all intuit that there is a vast mystery about life. We have moments when we just know that a loving presence is at the center of our being and at this still-point is a connection with all that truly matters. If we can learn to come to rest within this still-point, we are in the present moment and there is a vast emptiness or void that we surrender into. Here, we stop thinking, we stop striving, we stop judging or doing and we just be. Meditation and mindfulness are practices that support this.
Living fully in each moment is living on purpose. Being aware of what is going on around you but more importantly, being aware of what is going on within you, opens what in the Buddhist tradition is called the dharma doorways or the pathway to wisdom. There is great insight into the three characteristics of reality that they describe. The first is called dukkha. It is a quality of unsatisfactoriness or wanting things different. We are not at ease or feel incomplete. Our habit of being restless with life is deep and it is valuable to explore our individual happiness set point that often we struggle to move past. Can we be happy for no reason? This is when the heart knows freedom that is not based on a set of conditions that must be held in place for us to feel happy and content. Resting in awareness in the moment comes more easily when we stop being constantly on our way to something. Dukkha leads us towards resistance to the future and to getting stuck in worry.
The second dharma doorway is annicha, which means that everything is impermanent, everything changes. If we open to the radical impermanence of all experience, including the truth of our own mortality, we discover the natural capacity to let go. Wisdom is awakened if we can develop a mind that clings to nothing. As we are aging if we can acknowledge our own mortality more, the result can be an embracing of authentic spontaneity and a natural cherishing of life.
The third doorway is anatta. This is an understanding of what the Buddhist tradition terms the “no self.” It is described that when there is full presence, a presence not filtered by thoughts, this illusion dissolves, freeing us to realize our true nature. In this emptiness or non-attachment, we can find truth and this truth is liberating to our daily life as we realize that our impression of being in control does not lead us to feeling at peace. Another phrase that often rings in my ears is that, “We do not have to seek for truth, we only need to seek the barriers to truth.”
This often requires being still and quiet and bringing a willingness to ask the question, “What barrier is keeping me from being in balance or being present?.” But of course, this requires having the patience to wait for the answer. Patience comes to those who trust.
The greatest gift of aging is an expanded desire for most of us to truly understand that life can be simpler. These dharma doorways are one example of a pathway to help you get there. The Shifting Into Elderhood one day workshop on May 27 is an opportunity to do this. Call Marjorie at 250-863-9577 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Marjorie Horne is a Conscious Aging Workshop Facilitator and Founder of CareSmart Seniors Consulting. Visit www.caresmart.ca.