today was yet another day of not being present. however, it didn’t really bug me as much as it usually does. for some reason or other, there was a sort of background subliminal acceptance and relaxation. it was a forfeiture of all controlling urges and desires to bring my mind under “my” control. previously, i would be attempting to “force” myself into being present and then i would get terribly frustrated and i would feel a sort of deep groan of fatalism and nihilism. however, by the advice of a dear friend of mine, i have internalized and absorbed the realization that ultimate acceptance and inner forgiveness is key in moments of hardship. when i’m just drained of my “mindfulness-energy”, then i have to accept it. i cannot enforce an overnight transformation whereby i am suddenly endowed with the gift of perpetual mindfulness and presence. my transformation must be gradual and slow. that is the key, to allow the process to play itself out and to be easy about whatever seems to be happening in the moment.
now, when i start talking about acceptance and relaxation of striving and grasping, an important issue gets raised. how can Right Effort be applied if i am entertaining an attitude of simple non-reactive acceptance? well that’s a good question and the best answer i can give really is that these two important aspects of the path must be in a carefully calibrated equilibrium. and this is quite a difficult thing to accomplish. on days like today, where there is just no energy to be mindful, and my attempts to return to the moment are met with numerous difficult obstacles, “acceptance” may simply turn out to be a fancy way of saying “giving up”. the trick is in trying but not stressing out over the result. if it’s too difficult and there are too many challenges, it is important to simply accept that today is just not a day for mindfulness. it is important to keep trying as well though. the simple act of trying keeps alive within me the intention to be mindful which will find its object manifested in due course on brighter days during easier times.
so i guess today i was leaning i little too far on the acceptance side and not really much at all on the Right Effort side. but, that’s okay too, i’m starting to think that i prefer the acceptance to the effort because if i end up, more often than not, leaning too far on the effort side, i find myself frustrated and soaked in the boiling waters of negativity, anger, frustration, and despair. in accepting that i must sometimes simply accept, and even if that means not trying as hard, i am submitting to a long, long, long path and allowing myself the time needed to fulfill the true and wholly transformational liberation i seek. i discovered that my prior striving was the result of an over-attachment to transformation and mindfulness in general. i was craving and clinging to the notion of an overnight metamorphosis. i think that even though today was pretty much spent in over-thinking, dramatizing, and being generally lost in thoughts, it was an important day on the path in that it showed me the simplicity and relief brought about by simple acceptance, a lesson i learned early on in my journey and then promptly forgot. i remember one of the first things i found fascinating and liberating about this journey was the relief of radical acceptance, of simply allowing everything in the moment to be and to unfold in its own natural way.
today is plastic neuron day because i am highlighting the concept of neural plasticity which states that neural pathways are modified and reformed based on their use. this is a fancy technical term for the long-known concept embodied excellently in the old adage: practice makes perfect! by practicing we are effectively strengthening and fortifying neural networks and making them more efficient in their collaborative communicative effort. so, by engaging the path, we must practice the neural networks that correlate to mental states such as acceptance, mindfulness, forgiveness, compassion, and so on. with practice, these neural networks become so efficient that their message is relayed with no effort and their function becomes “second-nature”, a habituated behavioral pattern deeply and fully incorporated within the brain. but this process is a slow one, and this is really crucial to keep in mind. as the Buddha so elegantly states,
“A jug fills drop by drop.”