My life is my spiritual practice.

Every moment of my day, every situation I encounter, every person I meet, provides the opportunity to resist and close or to open and soften. I can brace against the realities of my life; or, I can allow my circumstances to be a catalyst to cause my heart to open more deeply.

I feel the difference of these two responses in my body.

When I am braced and stuck, hardened against what is happening, my shoulders are tensed; my stomach is tight. My voice is sharp and clipped; my words come more quickly and have a hard edge. My arms are crossed; my back is tight. My brain boils with all the stories of self-justification and all the strategies I am developing to defeat my enemy.

When I let go and settle into the situation of my life as it is at the moment, laying down my need and determination that things should be different, there is a warmth in my body that feels like strength, security and well-being. I stand still. My hands relax; I feel the weight of my body on the floor. My voice is steady; words come in an even more modulated flow. There is nothing urgent and demanding in my stance.

I fall into a braced position against life because I feel threatened; I am afraid. In response to fear I tense and tighten, poised for action in the hopes that, if I think hard enough and keep on my guard I will be able to protect myself against some perceived harm and get control of my circumstances.

I understand there is no hope of controlling all the forces in life that I allow to cause me to feel threatened. I will never get my life to operate so completely in tune with my needs, wants, and desires that I ever reach a place where there are no longer bits of my life that cause me to trip over into fear and resistance.

The problem with trying to wrestle my life circumstances and the people in my life into conformity with my will is that this effort keeps me trapped on the surface. I lose touch with the depth dimension of my existence and spend my life simply manipulating details in a futile attempt to establish some comfort and peace in the external circumstances of my little world. The surface of my life is not the location of the wisdom and life force for which my heart actually longs.

Openness and softening are a choice I can make no matter what my circumstances may be. The more I choose the gentle path, the more my heart opens and my spirit becomes responsive to the wisdom that exists in the deepest part of my being.

The way forward starts in my body; it lies along the path of tiny increments of openness. In this moment, I can choose to relax my hands. I can let my shoulders drop, relax the muscles in my face. I can always be present here no matter how much I may feel I would rather flee. I can listen more deeply to the situation in which I find myself viewing it as a message rather than an enemy.

Jesus said,

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:43-45)

When I open to the circumstance I perceive to be “against” me (my “enemy”), I discover that I am at home. I am a child of my “Father in heaven.” Nothing needs to change in order for me to know that the force of life and goodness is present.

When I remain open, there is no threat on earth that has the power to remove me from the abiding presence of love that holds my life and guides me in the path of wisdom and truth. There is no threat that has the power to keep me from the peace, strength and wisdom that are my true nature as a child of my “Father in heaven,” right here right now.