~ Pema Chödrön
The mandala ceremonies also represent impermanence, and how we can honor that in ourselves and in the world.
I am currently taking a class online entitled Awakening Joy, led by James Baraz (one of the founders of Spirit Rock meditation center in Northern California). The class is a ten-month course with another month of wrap-up and follows Baraz's book of the same title. This month's focus is Mindfulness. In his letter of the month, Baraz explains that one of the four properties of Mindfulness is that "as we pay attention, we begin to see for ourselves that the present moment is constantly changing...we can learn to enjoy the roller coaster ride of life, rather than think we will arrive at some fixed destination."
I always find it auspicious when the Universe places people, words, ideas, and such together for me to see (and hopefully, understand) which direction I would most benefit from placing my focus.
Letting go of expectations - of myself, other people, places and things - is another way of practicing Mindfulness, and accepting impermanence. This morning I was scheduled to attend my sangha meditation group. It only meets once a month on Sunday mornings for three hours. It is not a big commitment, yet I have been so over-committed, that when I got up late this morning and after walking my dog, I just didn't have the energy to go. I want to have the energy. I want to be Super Woman. I think I used to be. But I just can't do it any more.
The expectations I place on myself to do everything are too high. Where I used to be able to say "yes" to everything and jump to, I am no longer able, and maybe, I really don't want to. I am realizing with my packed schedule that I need to have a day where I don't do, I simply be. As I sat in bed this morning practicing an Appreciation-in-the-Moment exercise from my online class, I realized that I need to accept what is about myself. Though I feel guilty for not attending the sangha meeting this morning (as attending is not just for my benefit but for others), I came to the conclusion that I need to accept who I am and where I am, and that that means I need to re-think how I do. I decided next month, I will not schedule anything for the Saturday evening prior to my sangha meeting. That way, I can wake up without feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.
As the serenity prayer says (and as Baraz reminded in his letter): "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."
*The photo of the sand mandala above was taken last night at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. If you would like more information on Tibetan Healing Mandalas please go to: http://www.asia.si.edu/exhibitions/online/mandala/mandala.htm