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The Role of Vows

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I am spending a lot of time at the moment studying and meditating on the role of vows in our lives, meaning I am in the midst of making much more intentional vows (or intimate declarations) toward making our world a brighter, more awakened place.

This has a lot to do with my recent trip/retreat back home to northern California, and the inspiration to deepen my commitment to Zen Buddhist practice that occurred rather wonderfully and organically while I was there. It also has a great deal to do with where I am in my personal life as devoted mama and wife, friend and confidante, student and practitioner, writer and guide, and so on.

Yes, recently I have been truly consumed with not only the impulse but with the more profound long-term question of how I can in earnest aspire to and become a greater light.

How might I ripple and radiate out from the closest, most interior circles to the nether regions of the universe as an ever more welcoming, beaming, and loving presence?

I believe this is an essential question that all us sacred creatures share and contemplate with varying degrees of consciousness over the course of our lifetimes, as it is fundamentally about unearthing, then thriving from our inherently sweet, warm, and generous natures.

I mean, don't you think this is sort of the life question when it comes down to it? How we can ultimately support, soothe, inspire, and ignite more love and kindness here in ourselves, there in others, and everywhere in and around us all?

Sounds grand and utterly lofty, doesn't it? Yet there is some serious, subtle, and soft inside work to be done in making the big, outside, "wow" stuff happen!

I am convinced that accessing and living in alignment with our unique and meaningful vows is a huge part of it.

Feeling stymied by this project? Here is a sequence of hints at how you might discover and live with your own positive declarations:

  • Get Quiet. Sit down and touch the stillness inside you. Open yourself to receive how in your heart of hearts you would like to live.
  • Commit. Take note of the phrases that you intuit to be your life commitments and privately declare them to yourself. They may me about being better to you, or being a more compassionate companion, parent, coworker, etc. What really matters is that the vows come from your truest center.
  • Start Small. Let each dedicated vow arise in the simplest of acts, in how you speak to your kids or loved ones, how you cook your meals, mail a letter, walk the dog, or anything and everything else super mundane and everyday.
  • Expect Nothing. Don't assume or look to gain a thing from living in accordance with and abiding by your vows. Just be present and allow them to steer your every move, no strings attached.
  • Ride the Wave. Experience the crests and falls of your life with your vows in place and observe how you feel.
  • Deepen. In other words, go back to go. Lovingly reaffirm and recommit to your vows often, and keep on surfing it all.

My teacher Norman Fischer writes in his fantastic new book, Training in Compassion: "We would all like to serve others, to feel for others, to love others with everything we've got. We would all like to be a light for the world."

Vows are at the crux of and provide the blissful foundation for making this possible. They literally illuminate the way. You game?

In light and loving kindness,

Maggie

For more by Maggie Lyon, click here.

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