Back when I was in college I always looked forward to the first Friday in the month because all of the magazines would hit the shelves and I would love going to the bookstore and come home holding all of that new information neatly organized in one brightly displayed package of papers. There was so much excitement in the newness! Since blogging exploded I rarely buy any print magazines anymore because my mind is already bombarded enough, but recently I went into B&N and wandered around the magazine stand for inspiration. Where I was looking for budget fashion items at 20, now post-30 I'm looking for something that inspires my soul. A bright pink magazine stuck out to me in the Health section, called Tricycle: A Buddhist Review. I was immediately drawn to it. I had a spark of that same thrill I used to feel holding something tangible that I could dive into and I have spent every night in the past week or so consuming every single article.
I'm not technically a Buddhist. I've never studied it or spent a ton of time understanding it but there's something about the prose in these articles that seems to find every single empty, confused hole in my mind and fill it with joy and inspiration. The messages were so clearly expressed and so modernly adapted. I had to share some of the little tidbits that I find so spot on with you all!
What is magic?
A beautiful piece written on abandon by Leora Fridman brings up a few questions about mastering something. Maybe it's gardening or yoga or a certain skill, there's always those people who seem to make something look so easy (almost like magic). The immediate thought is that this person just has that magic born in them but can magic be the sum of a lot of hours practicing met with a lot of enthusiasm? Are we capable of creating our own magic? Are we so instant-gratifiction consumed that we totally neglect that someone may have spent hundreds of hours mastering something to make it appear like magic?
In another article further along in the book there's a quote the author suggests:
"Repetition is what allows something brand new to occur. It gently shifts the ground on which we tread, and so alters our relationship to the things we experience. It changes the relationship to experience itself."
This struck a cord with me. I've been practicing my ashtanga regularly and that means doing the same thing day after day after day and subtly noticing the tiny shifts in strength, posture and mentality. My approach to my workouts allows for new exploration if I continue repetition. Maybe it looks like magic, that I can lift my legs in the air while standing on my head, but that magic was truly a culmination of hard work and repetition. I surely wasn't born standing upside-down! In fact, I'm incredibly ungraceful but practice and effort may lead to extraordinary things that I never thought possible before.
Effort = Energy
" I am often afraid of effort, afraid that I will be drained by it or afraid of effort that results in failure... I believe I am small and effort will erase me. I fear my own weakness and expect myself not to be capable."
Also in that same article by Leora Fridman. I find this so, so true. For me personally, to be in a job that requires me to create every single day is a gift of creativity but also a burden of pressure. To keep things moving it requires constant effort which then always creates a surge of energy in new projects or new ideas, perhaps new income. But sometimes I get paralyzed in trying to strive for the perfect representation and execution of my ideas and so I let fear, for these same reasons above, stop me from fully fulfilling all of my ideas. Is the risk of feeling drained greater than the energy created OR is the byproduct of effort so energetic that it dwarfs the risk of feeling drained by that effort?
: The desire to become
One of the things I think a lot about, especially these days is how success is so tied to fame and followers. I can't tell you how many times I hear that I'm not successful because I don't have more instagram followers (!) so somehow all of my accomplishments/awards are diminished by a number on an app that I don't even really own the content. It's so intriguing to me that everyone just wants to become someone and not do something. In the Dharma talk section, I came across an article by Christina Feldman (all of these writers are so brilliant!). In this article the concept of bhavatanha is explained, a concept that I was never aware of until now. She explains that this desire to become actually causes stress and leads us to "rearrange the conditions of our lives" in order to become someone. The question is raised: why can't a life of meaning be just wholly accepting the things that make each of us immensely happy every day. I love to sit on my balcony with tea and read Buddhist magazines while watching my snapdragons and coneflowers enjoy the sunlight. In our culture, generally speaking, this is not enough. What else did I do this morning to give my life meaning? Basically, what have I done to become someone today?
If you get a chance to pick up a copy I highly recommend or I think you can subscribe to the website to read these specific articles. Here are the links:
Hopefully this inspires your day!
Photo by my homegirl Marianna Massey