What do you place at the heart of your life?

Leaf by Sebastian DarioSatya writes: After getting into good habits on retreat in Eleusis in France, we started our day today by spending some time in front of our golden Buddha.

Why do I start my day in this way?

There are lots of things we can place at the heart of our lives. Common favourites for most of us are financial security, popularity, physical security, our image and how successful we are.

When I put money at the centre, and spend hours plotting how I can pay the tax bill looming in January, I am working from fear. When I put fame at the centre, and check my rankings on Amazon too often, I am coming from an insecure place and always find myself greedy for more.

All of these efforts are misguided. They are an attempt to prop my ego up, and to deny the reality of existence, which is that everything changes all of the time. There is no ultimate security. We can’t  control how much money comes in or how famous we are. We can make choices and do our best, but what comes back is much less in our direct control than we’d like to think.

When I start the day in front of our shrine, when I say the nembutsu, I am placing something at the centre that doesn’t rely on me getting-what-I want for everything to be okay. Who am I to know what’s best for me?

I said just now that there is no ultimate security. My own experience is that this isn’t quite true. We can rely on something larger than ourselves, even if we don’t have a name for it or our experience of it comes in and out of focus. If we can start to relax into this experience, if we can let go of me-at-the-centre-of-everything, we gradually feel safer and more acceptable-as-we-are. This in turn allows us to take more risks. It motivates us to choose those actions which will benefit all sentient beings, not just the one typing this blog post.

Putting something else at the heart of things feels especially important today, as Amazon have selected my novel ‘The Most Beautiful Thing’ for promotion for the first time. This might mean it soars up into the charts and I’ll be a millionaire… or it might mean nothing. Rather than putting fame and money at the heart, I’d like to put something else there – the good things I could do with the money if it does arrive (like a donation to our retreat centre in France which is about to expand) and the hope that some people’s lives will be improved in some small way after reading my novel. 

It’s not easy. This is an understatement! I’m feeling pretty tempted to check my rankings in the book charts right now. But frequent reminders do help. We can develop our own practices to support us and remind us – taking a minute every hour to take a slow deep breath, getting out into nature, having pictures of our family on our desks, putting fresh flowers on the table, practising gratitude… What helps you remember?

Of course, another way of describing what I put at the heart of my life is love.

Love comes first. When it doesn’t, everything we do comes from fear instead. To prop ourselves up, and to make ourselves feel more secure.

We don’t need to prop ourselves up or feel more secure. We are all held safe, and we are all perfectly loved. Just as we are.

If you’d like to change what you place at the centre of your life during July, we have two e-courses starting this Friday 5thEastern Therapeutic Writing with Kaspa or Writing Ourselves Alive with me. You can pay whatever you choose for these courses. They sold out last month so do have a look now if you think it might be the right time for you.

The LettersI have a gift for you today. To celebrate the promotion of ‘The Most Beautiful Thing‘ (which is only £1.49) for one day only my novel ‘The Letters‘ is free on kindle – help yourself from and do let your friends know. Enjoy!

“Violet Ackerman is lost.

With four children, a divorce and an all-consuming career behind her, she moves to a new house by the sea with no idea of what the future holds – or even if she has a future at all.

Then she starts to receive a series of letters from the past. These letters, dated fifty years before, were written by a young pregnant woman living in a mother-and-baby home. Violet has no idea who is sending her these letters, or what message they are intended to impart.

As Violet tries to solve the mystery of the letters and build a new life for herself, she is forced to confront the mess she has made of her relationships: with her children, her lover and her friends. When all her instincts tell her to run, Violet must try to gather the courage to face her greatest enemy. Herself.”


Leaf by Sebastián-Dario