For the past few weeks this blog has focused on teachings and tips from the book Everyday Dharma: Seven Weeks to Finding the Buddha in You, by Lama Willa Miller. This week’s blog post is a pause from the 7 week series and celebrates the 10th anniversary of the book. We are delighted that Lama Willa has written this blog post – especially for you to help enhance your journey of finding the Buddha in you. As always, you can catch up on previous weeks here. And be sure to comment below and let us know your thoughts…….
This year is the tenth anniversary of the publication of Everyday Dharma, and I am grateful to Dyan [Dyan Eagles is the DharmaCrafts Founder and long-time meditator] for featuring it on the DharmaCrafts website. I wrote it as the handbook I wish I had when I was starting to delve into Buddhist practice. That was the 1980s. Back then, I accessed the dharma primarily through translations of Buddhist philosophical and ritual texts. It was easy to miss the forest for the trees.
Dyan and Simone asked if I might write a few words here for readers of the DharmaCrafts blog who are following along with the seven week course laid out in Everyday Dharma.
I suppose I would like to offer this inquiry to join with the daily exercises: Where are you feeling the daily dharma in your body? If you can feel the dharma in your body, it begins to change you. We start to notice “Aha! This is what its like to feel spaciousness in the body.”, “This is what is like to feel magnanimity in the body”, and “This is what it is like to feel compassion the body.”
There are also other broad reasons you might want to include the body in your spiritual journey.
First, while the conceptual mind tends to follow after the past and grasp at the future, the body is radically present. The body does not think or strategize. It just feels, right here right now. The body is registering the air on your skin. It is sensing the pull of gravity. It is hearing, smelling, seeing, feeling, even as you read these words. The body has the power to draw you into the present moment and help you remain there like nothing else.
Second, the body is honest. The mind will tell you all kinds of stories, some useful and some not so useful. It will build castles in the air that often collapse! The mind always has an agenda, and will try to protect it. The body however does not have agendas. Its needs are simple, and it tells the truth.
For example, your mind might say “I’m not afraid.” or “I’m not angry”. But the body will tell you the truth about how your feel, if you listen carefully. It holds important information that the mind, at times, will deny. This information is the very stuff of dharma practice.
Third, the body is grounded. It is married to this earth. The conceptual thoughts in the mind swirl about like the wind. They are capricious and wild. Moving down into the body can help ground you, so that you can work more effectively with the wild mind.
I wish you all a joyful progression through the weeks of Everyday Dharma. May you deepen in practice, realize your wisdom nature and embody the dharma for the benefit of others.
Willa B. Miller, PhD is the founder of Natural Dharma Fellowship in Boston and Wonderwell Mountain Refuge in Springfield, New Hampshire. She is an authorized lama in the Tibetan tradition, and has practiced for decades and completed her training under the direction of several of the leading Tibetan lamas of the twentieth century. She received a doctorate from Harvard University, and is currently Visiting Lecturer in Buddhist Ministry at Harvard Divinity School. Her teaching interests include Tantra and the Body, Buddhism and Ecology, and Buddhist Contemplative Care. Lama Willa’s teaching schedule is available here.