Some years back, I shared a podium with a delightful Benedictine nun. We were presenting on meditation and spiritual practice. I remember being organized with my notes, as I talked about various approaches to centering. In contrast, my co-presenter spoke off the cuff about what a treat it is to give ourselves quiet time and what fun it is to take regular breaks from the cares of the day.
There was light-heartedness in her message – a playful spirit, an invitation to be at ease, to be merciful and gentle with ourselves – very different, in tone, from the somber spirituality that focuses on discipline and hard work.
A few weeks ago, my friend Nicky sent around a quote, which echoes this merciful approach to spiritual practice. It’s from a workshop she attended with Australian meditation teacher, Bob Sharples. I pass it on for your enjoyment.
"Don’t meditate to fix yourself, to heal yourself, to improve yourself, to redeem yourself: rather, do it as an act of love, of deep warm friendship to yourself. In this way there is no longer any need for the subtle aggression of self-improvement, for the endless guilt of not doing enough. It offers the possibility of an end to the ceaseless round of trying so hard that wraps so many people’s lives in a knot."
It’s our nature to deepen. When we listen and soften to our true nature, we grow quite nicely – even without “the subtle aggression of self-improvement” and “the endless guilt of not doing enough”.