by Caverly Morgan
We have countless ways to dismiss our experience. Endless strategies to shirk from, abandon, and resist the moment – in particular, the experience we are having in the moment. Picture a mother consistently dismissing her child. Imagine the effect that this has on the child. We learn to assume that our experience isn’t valid. We craft and rely on coping mechanisms in order to survive our lives. We become more and more ‘protected.’ We build walls. We defend them.
In Awareness Practice, we are invited to honor our experience – whatever that experience is. This isn’t some kind of airy-fairy, “It’s all good,” panacea. This is the real and gritty work of moving toward the very thing we’ve deeply believed will harm us – moving into the experience that we’ve avoided in an attempt to ‘stay safe.’ We are invited to trust, rather than question and discard. This is the foundation of a practice of fearlessness.
While the image of a warrior with a finely sharpened sword can certainly aptly apply when speaking of spiritual practice, in particular in terms of cutting through delusion, the honoring being pointed to here is a process of nurturance. It is the turning toward ourselves, with deep compassion. It is the embrace of our experience without the distortion of judgment. It is the gift of love.
We aren’t conditioned to give this gift to ourselves. We honor the experiences of others we love; yet we, habitually, don’t honor our own. For others we love, we reserve the ‘right’ to judge. Not for ourselves. For others, we may even see the divine workings of how life has unfolded. We trust the process. For ourselves, there is recrimination, accusation, fear. We are to blame. We are at fault. There is, with ourselves within the conditioned system, little to honor yet much to fix.
As we learn to honor our experience, we become more comfortable with our vulnerability. We no longer need to protect the tenderness of our experience because we understand, experientially, that that tenderness cannot be threatened. It is held, gently and firmly, within the context of unconditional love. When our attention is aligned with unconditional love, our conditioned definitions of ‘perpetration’ fall away. We lose the desire to defend.
With practice, the tenderness of our experience is the only place in which we wish to live – to truly rest inside of. With practice, we become intimate with ourselves, each other, and the world at large through our own ability to touch, and fully experience, the most authentic and open part of our experience of being alive. From that union with our experience, rather than the conditioned tendency to separate from it, and from our own ability to honor ourselves, we become unafraid to be vulnerable. In fact, we find the strength in our vulnerability. As we learn to reside in love, we become fearless.
Caverly Morgan is a teacher and founder and director of One House of Peace, a nonprofit that began as a small meditation center located in Sacramento, CA. Caverly has been devoted to Zen Awareness Practice for the last eighteen years. She is a former Zen monk who lived and trained at a silent monastery for eight years. In 2012, One House of Peace expanded into Portland, OR, where Caverly now maintains her own spiritual practice while offering the gift of practice to others.