BREEMA in the Sacred Valley of Peru Post 2
Tuesday, August 29, 2023 4:10 PM
A typical day: Atypical day.
One of the wonders of travel is that it interrupts our habits. What is typical and routine is replaced by new sounds, new smells, new tastes, new flowers... landscapes, and hey - look! A flock of parrots down in the valley!
With the shake up of travel, we have the opportunity to actually experience that we are here. This is helpful because our minds can be so good at going on autopilot when daily life has become habitual and mundane. Of course, we always have this opportunity to really experience life, but we forget. Science might use the word “adapt.” We adapt so that we miss the newness of each moment.
In the book, “Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” there is a poignant description of all of this. A father is driving a motorcycle through what he believes is a beautiful landscape. His son is on the back, less enthused, and dad wants to help him appreciate what is here. “There's a red-winged black bird,” says dad. There is no hesitation when his son answers, "I’ve seen lots of those."
The father goes into reminiscence about growing up seeing these birds and other similar sights, and he also makes the point (to himself) that the immediacy and closeness of travelling on a motorcycle helps us drop separation from our environment. To me, the most important and fundamental point in their exchange is the truth that because we have seen something before, we give ourselves permission to check out, to not enter into relationship with life. The dad might have easily answered, “Yeah, but you haven’t seen THAT one - right now.” And of course, we might ask, is dad really seeing his son afresh right now or is dad seeing himself in that single moment and as a single activity? What does that even mean? More on that later.
Of course, this is what we all do. If we are honest, then we can’t really judge others in this regard. Think about it - we’ve seen the kitchen sink so many times. Isn’t it easier if we just stop actually seeing it? Is it perhaps easier yet if we stop even knowing we exist when we stand at that sink looking down at our living hands and body above it, washing the dish that grandma gave us 40 years ago and leaving it to dry with no tangible memory of even having done so? Whether we can see the decision to check out or not, that is what we do. We leave ourselves, so to speak. We leave the home of the moment - that fact that we exist, and so we miss experiencing what we think we already know.
In the first sentence of the first paragraph above, I could replace the phase “our habits” with “living in our thoughts” or “living in ‘I think I know this.’” I can say this from my own experience. So much of the time, I do not actually taste my life.
What I was reminded of in Peru was that travel invites me to an endless suprise party that keeps bringing me back to the fact of what many maps say, “You are Here." Travel can help to create a shift to Presence so that I am indeed available and receptive and taking in my surroundings for the first time. I can do that when I am walking through my living room for the seven thousandth time, but then I need a wish to be awake. I need some help to break through my mind’s fascination with the past and future, with what could have or should be, but the beautiful thing is, when I do my part, support is always given. In fact, Mutual Support seems to be an integral part of how the universe operates... Can I trust that? Well, first it helps if I confirm and remember that I will go on autopilot. Thankfully, I can do this scientific research without even applying for government grant! I just need the laboratory of the mind I already have. Check. I will need a physical body. Got it. Then I need to have a wish to bring those together. Hmmm… Perhaps I could register that my body is breathing? Or that it has weight on the ground?
Yes, there is good news that cuts through the complication coming from the parts of me that try to figure a way out. Breema: The Art of Being Present offers us simple, practical tools that can help us more Fully Participate in life. Body mind connection is at the heart of this practice. Also good news: We can benefit from these tools in any moment. We just have to remember and to then take a step. For now, check out these images of everyday moments on retreat in Peru. You’ll see the “office” where I wrote out our itinerary for the day and reviewed other notes, a group meeting before more outward adventures, a very important interview with a small flower, and more...
Thank you for reading,
A blog of good news by David Pratt
David & Alana Pratt
to Everyday Sacred