March 15, 2011

Don't Panic, Just Practice: Mirka Knaster on dealing with a tsunami alert

We sit everyday. Sometimes we go on retreats. We're practicing to become better people—wiser, more generous, happier people—but, for many of us, doubt lingers. Does the practice work? In a post on her blog, author and vipassana practitioner Mirka Knaster writes about how she responded recently to a tsunami alert near her home in California. By describing her equipoise and clarity of thought during an emergency Knaster reminds us that sometimes, often when it matters most, our practice does have a powerful and positive effect on our lives. Knaster writes:

Tonight, as I reflect on the morning's events, I realize how much my dharma practice kicked in. Packing became an illuminating exercise. I went straight for the things I'd thought about while still lying in bed: my laptop, several important file folders, some family papers, and a box of journals; a few items of clothing and footwear; toiletries; our dog's bowls and food; some food for me; and water.

Clearly, there were so many other things all around me, but I didn't stop for any of them. As I gathered pants and a few tops in the closet, I saw the two beautiful traditional silk jackets that Bhutanese women wear. I'd bought them on a visit to Bhutan. It never occurred to me to take them with me. Nor did I carry out any artwork, painted by others or quilted by me. And I felt no conflict about it; in fact, it didn't enter my mind at all.

Knowing that I could let go of everything (except for the few papers, journals, and laptop), left me with a sense of peacefulness. A house filled with stuff, but it didn't matter.

Read the rest here.

Knaster is currently leading a Tricycle Book Club discussion about her new book Living This Life Fully, about the life and teachings of Anagarika Munindra. Join us here.

Image: from the Flickr photostream of Jim Linwood.

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