There are two wolves who are always fighting.One is darkness and despair. The other is light and hope.The question is: Which wolf wins? . . . The one you feed.”
and we have the amazing opportunity to choose, what we feed.
every day we have a choice, many choices; what to eat, who to associate with, how to spend our time, where to dedicate our precious faculty of attention.for those who practice mindful living, everyday is a day of reflection. every single morning a chance to begin with gratitude, and progress with deepening self-study, and improvement in our relationship to others, to ourselves and ultimately to God.
living mindfully includes awareness of our thoughts, our words, our actions, what we eat, and how our behaviors affect our inner and outer body/environment.
however, mindful living is not normal. in this speck in time it is quite extraordinary to have even an inkling of this attitude. depression, addiction, anxiety, these are quite more accepted and “normal”.today is Yom Kippur יוֹם כִּיפּוּר known as the Day of Atonement. in Judaism it is considered the most solemn day of the year, essentially it is a day of forced mindfulness. you fast, you wear white, you avoid leather, you pull away from worldly distractions and focus on elevated intention setting for the year ahead. emphasis is placed on the themes of atonement and repentance. in-fact it is not just one day of mindfulness, it is a week, called the Days of Awe, a period of time set aside for serious introspection, a time to consider the wrongdoings of the previous year and ask for forgiveness, from yourself, from others, from God before the start of the new year.as i sat in Yom Kippur services this evening, reflecting on the year, hearing the wonderful, radical, female Rabbi discussing how difficult it is to look honestly at the mistakes we have made over the year, i felt a surge of joy, yes, of course it has been a hard year. of course there are things, many, many things, i would go back and change if i could. and yet, i feel i have been mindful in my practice, in the practice of living. not ignoring the shame or pain or guilt as it comes, but in each moment working consciously to, pause, breathe, and make an active choice in response, rather than in reaction.
the wonderful Buddhist nun and teacher Pema Chödrön teaches to look to the pain. she says suffering can be a great teacher for us because if we look at whatever is coming up for us; whatever hardship or confusion or misunderstanding we are having, we can often discover the source. what is lying underneath that pain, what is the underlying fear or doubt that we are having and just by concentrating on finding that, we can begin to resolve it.it’s like when the house starts to get a little messy, if you spend 5 minutes tidying it up everyday, the mess never gets so out of hand. but if you leave it, and leave it, and leave it till another time, when you have the time, when you have the time.. suddenly the mess becomes so large it will take a crew hours to clean…. our internal clutter is the same. on this day, many moons ago, my brother fed the wolf of darkness and despair. the mess had been growing too long, become too large, and unfortunately the resources to clean it up were beyond his mindfulness capacity. suicide is an individual, family and community public health crisis with more than 40,000 people dying in America each year. and it IS preventable! the suicide prevention professionals recommend that we ACT:
i recommend that we dedicate our practice, we dedicate our life, every day. that we hold ourselves accountable and seek the association of others who will help us with this project. that we hold close in our hearts those who we have lost, and those who are losing the battle with darkness and despair. and do not wait for one week a year to reflect on our lives. every day show gratitude for even the smallest gestures. every day apologize to those we have hurt. every day remind ourselves to live gently in the softness of our own hearts.