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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Zen and the Art of Loving the Small Stuff

In December last year, after four years of intermittently practicing Reiki, first being attuned to level 1 and then 2 a year later, I felt a strong impulse to take my Master attunement. I almost immediately discovered Taggart King and his Reiki Evolution, a form of Reiki which is true to the method and spirit of Usui, the Japanese founder.

It called to me because it does not dwell on the westernised obsession with form and prescribed ritual but opens to the power of intuitive guidance and the potency of pure intention. I could never understand the necessity for the symbols; I could never memorise them and felt uncomfortable working with them. They felt immensely counter-intuitive to me. It was such a feeling of coming home when I found Taggart through another on-line Reiki group.

Taggart explained that the symbols were brought in as a means of giving a shortcut concrete focus to naval officers in the Japanese Navy who did not have the time or the inclination to pursue Reiki as a spiritual practice. Even the ritualised hand positions for working with clients were not part of the original practice. I felt like cheering - in fact I probably did. When I discovered that one of Taggart's Masters, Margaret Craig, lived less than five minutes from my son's school, the cheers got louder and I felt even more certain that this was the way forward for me. When I met Margaret the last piece of the jigsaw fell into place. It was as though I had known her forever.

The weekend attunement itself was blissful. The energy flow and shared experience of the four gathered together with Margaret was extraordinary. I loved it and I knew that there had been a space created in my life for something new and extraordinary to flow in. Those familiar with the concepts of the Hero's Journey know that as soon as you set your foot upon the path, challenges arise to test you. It is part of the strengthening and clearing process. It can also be very tough going!

Like many people who are naturally intuitive, there is a struggle to live in the "real world" or to balance the call of the inner world with the necessities of the external world, like eating, sleeping, keeping house, earning a living. Since childhood, I have been inclined to "time slip", my name for drifting off into some kind of inner space which always seemed a more enchanting place to dwell than in real time. I have achieved much in my life but I always knew that it could have been much more. I always danced away from the the idea and practice of self-discipline; it seemed so austere and in truth to me, soulless, redolent with the stories of my Catholic youth of martyrs, self-flagellation and other cruel and unusual practices.

It has taken a long time and a quite a helter skelter journey for me to wake up fully to the truth of mastery. Like all great truths it is incredibly simple when you finally see it clearly. Mastery is loving it all. Mastery is doing what needs to be done lovingly, reverently, joyfully, finding the bliss in each simple action of every day. It is not self- discipline; it is self-love. It requires no whips, no hair shirts, no painful self-immolation on the altar of self-sacrifice. It is not the dour dark dungeons of the enclosed orders of nuns I grew up in fear of having a calling to. It is the instrument of freedom, of joyful liberation. It is not the tedium of the mundane; it is the sheer magic of being fully, lovingly present to the active meditation that is the every day practice of everything we do.

For years I fought housework as if it were a demon which would consume me, drain my spirit and render me a brain dead housewife, barefoot and chained to the kitchen sink. For years, I not only didn't "sweat the small stuff", I blanked it out, ignored it and plain didn't do it until it grew from little things into great big things like chronic procrastination, chronic untidiness, chronic over-weight and physical inactivity. I became an expert at crisis management but it was me who engineered the crises by failing to stay in the present moment and do what needed to be done.

It has taken a very long time but now I know that the truth of living a life of mastery is to see clearly that living fully in the moment is to do all things with a loving reverence and quiet joy - or even a noisy, rip-roaring ecstatic joy, even the dirty dishes that your husband didn't wash the night before. No resentment, no bad temper, no "this is his job". Do it lovingly with gratitude in your heart that you have feet to stand on by that sink, hands to sink into the hot suds, the money to buy the detergent, a husband and son to wash up after, a kitchen to wash up in, a roof over your head. Do it with the recognition that life is a very precious gift and you are so lucky to have all that you have.

Don't "sweat the small stuff". Love it. That way true freedom lies.
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