CAMP COLUMBIA, Thetis Island, B.C. JULY 13-15, 2007
Cynthia Bourgeault

The Welcoming Practice:

is a practice that turns stupid suffering into conscious suffering. It is a practice to work with when your buttons are pushed, also to practice in moments of “sleazy” joy = times of “happiness” from having your false self system programs appeased

There are three steps To “The Welcoming Practice”:

1. focus/sink in – become physically aware of the upset as a sensation in your body – where is it? where’s the fear, the nervousness? What does it feel like when you are afraid? Sit with the fear. A lot of people stop breathing, or breathe shallow when they are frightened.

Don’t try to change it. Don’t start to psychoanalyze it, or blame, or reconstruct how you got here, don’t employ thinking in any form which just pushes you back into your small ego.

2. welcome – slowly say, “welcome fear, welcome anxiety…” Seems counter-intuitive – if this thing is the problem, why wouldn’t you try to get rid of it? Instead create an inner sense of hospitality/spaciousness. It is shocking how much of our lives we spend at war with ourselves. Very few people are actually fully comfortable inside their own skins.

Consciousness trumps any psychological or physical manifestation. If you turn consciousness to anything it will release and integrate.

Gerald May – we mostly prefer a neurotic self-image to no self-image at all.

Airtight case or not, I want to work with my stuff in a spiritual way. The hardest part in the practice is simply wanting to do it in the first place. Welcome creates an atmosphere of inner hospitality and the underutilized quality of compassion.

When we live life moment by moment, we discover we can welcome this moment. This moment can always be endured provided you don’t borrow trouble from the future or carry resentment from the past.

Human beings waste time living in worry about the future and lament for the past.

When you are in the past or the future, you are not here. Learn to be in the present with compassionate attention.

3. let go – when the intensity begins to shift you can let go now – four step litany:

a. I let go my desire for security and survival

b. I let go my desire for esteem and affection

c. I let go my desire for power and control

d. I let go my desire to change the situation

3:a-c = the false self system – the program that allows us to suffer stupidly. In this practice you are sending the false self a strong message – telling yourself that as a human being you are more than Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, although even Maslow had a seldom acknowledged top need = self-transcendence.

In this practice, something other comes to us when we do not appease the false self system.

c. is a conscious turning from any of the manifestations of the false self system – I don’t need to fix it – relaxing of urgency and comparison which always sees this is bad/ this is good.

One of the beauties of the end of life passage is that we can let go of the desire to fix everything, to assert things, to make them right. Things can just be. We are released from the burden of having to find meaning in everything – this is the final state of release. What is simply is and you are part of the issness of it all.