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I’m enrolled in the “Introduction to Recording and Listening” class. It is my second time taking the class, and even though I am familiar with the assignments they feel entirely new. I love that about practice. If I’m practicing, each thing that happens is new. There is no “Oh I know this one” or “I did this before.” Instead, I experience an opportunity for everything to be new and intriguing. How fun!

One assignment that resonated with me was the “Appreciation” recording. I have been struggling at work with feeling overwhelmed, and so I recorded an appreciation for the worker. It was lovely. I listened and heard the things I have longed to hear about how my work and approach to work is appreciated and valued.

I decided to make an appreciation recording for all of my identities: Zen practitioner, spouse, teacher, counselor, friend, and so on. 

I listened to my recordings and noticed a theme throughout them all that can be summed up in one word: love. The words were loving, and the experience of listening was pure love.

Now, I also noticed that conditioning was creeping around trying to get some airtime. It would try to say “Is that really true?” or “This is so false. Praising yourself is so self-indulgent and who cares?” And most insidious of all “Appreciating yourself doesn’t matter!” That one got me. Wait? What? Appreciating myself doesn’t matter? Who said that?

As instructed in the class, I would simply notice these statements and write them down—but not include them in my recordings. When I was finished, I looked back at those vicious, snarky comments from conditioning. What I saw was a huge self-hate campaign. Conditioning was trying to wedge itself in between me and love and compassion. 

It reminded me of something the Guide said about whether we could picture getting tired of loving someone or saying loving things to someone we love. You wouldn’t tire of that, would you? Only conditioning would try to prevent love from being expressed.

What I have discovered—and I discover it over and over again—is that what you practice really is what you have. 

I experience love and appreciation by making a recording that is loving and appreciative. It is as simple as that. Conditioning would like to prevent that. Thank goodness I have support from Practice and Sangha to see past that system of self-hate.

I’ve been thinking about making new recordings of appreciation about identities that I hadn’t considered before: homeowner, car driver, food preparer, floor sweeper, etc. The possibilities are endless, and the opportunity to experience participating in appreciation and love is a true blessing.

Gasshō

  • Make a recording of an appreciation for one part of your body. Maybe your ankle? Your nose? What do you thank that body part for? What does it do for you? How is it taking care of you? What appreciation do you have for it? How many more recording about new body parts could you make?                                                                                                                                           


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