Only As Solid As We Make It

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By Loden Nyima

Our minds are open and empty yet full of wisdom and love

Meditation teachings talk a lot about how our minds are inherently open or empty, yet full of wisdom and love.

Openness or emptiness means there is no single, independent, lasting essence to any of our thoughts, emotions, stories, or for that matter anything at all including our bodies, minds, and the world around us.

Things are changing all the time

The way they change is the dynamic interplay of innumerable different causes and conditions.  For example, what are all the factors leading to reading this article right now?  A computer?  An internet connection?  Interest in meditation?  And our eyes are moving across the screen, changing our focus from one word to the next as our mind follows suit.  

Zooming out a bit, how many different thoughts have we had today?  In our lives?  How many different good and bad experiences have we had?  And yet, here we are…

These kinds of questions point toward the fact that our experience of life is fleeting at most, impermanent, changing.  Yet at the same time, there’s the continuity of some basic level of wakefulness, awareness, experience—life itself.  There’s connection, care, understanding.  

Letting go

Embracing and letting go into this natural flow is how we free our minds and hearts, and meet each moment of life with our full capacity for connection, care, and skillful engagement. 

What holds us back, limits us, entraps us, is that we believe everything we think.  We subscribe to our inner narratives, monologues, stories, and they form habitual patterns which we and others act out in life as we co-create our world as we know it.  We then become identified and trapped in these, almost like a prison of our own minds where our happiness or suffering are dictated by the contents of our thoughts and life experiences.  

We can be free

We don’t have to live like this.  We can be free.  

Emptiness means that things have only ever been as solid as we’ve made them.  

We solidify thoughts and experiences by either fully buying them hook line and sinker, replaying them endlessly, and acting them out.  Or on the other hand, we also solidify when we try to repress, avoid, or not feel something (especially things that are painful).  This can also be how we end up with a “backlog” of unprocessed emotional material which runs our lives from behind the curtains of our conscious experience. 

Rather, we have the ability to feel everything we experience, yet hold onto none of it.  Sometimes this is called “touch and go” in meditation practice.  We do this by welcoming it into the feeling our breathing with curiosity, and then simply continuing to breathe.  Letting go with each out breath.    

We also have the ability to investigate how solid anything in our experience really is…where exactly is this thought, this story?  Where is it in my body?  Can I breathe with it, is there space within it?  Where does it go when it is finished?  And who exactly is meditating?

Gradually, we can begin to allow our minds and hearts to naturally release themselves from temporary entrapment in limiting narratives.

As we do, our capacity for love, connection, compassion, creativity, fresh ways forward, is revealed more and more.  

We can have more space to offer others, to see situations in life more clearly, and with the energy and inspiration to care and to help.  

Join Loden for an upcoming program at DMC


About Gelong Loden Nyima

Gelong Loden Nyima is a fully ordained Buddhist monk. He lived at Gampo Abbey from 2009 – 2017 where he practiced intensively, completed Shedra studies, and served in various roles including as a Shastri. He now lives at Drala Mountain Center where he serves as Resident Teacher and a founding faculty member for the Summer Seminar and other programs. He spends a portion of each year in retreat, frequently travels to continue his own dharma education, and can often be seen jogging around the land at DMC.

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