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Real Happiness Challenge - Week 1

"The art of beginning again": Sharon's instruction has never felt more gently apropos than this month, this time around in the 28-Day Real Happiness challenge. I'm beginning this 28-day practice cycle again, one I've done a few times before. The Tibetan and Chinese new year are beginning, again, next week on February 9, according to the lunar calendar. New projects begin at work; I have new opportunities to practice and assist my teachers. But of course, the beginnings feel different. Beginning again and again, I can sense there really is an art to that, to beginning fresh with every practice cycle, with every seat on the cushion, with every breath. 

Every breath is an opportunity to place my attention, no matter what happened the breath before. Feeling that freshness seems important to me right now, a clean and simple way to cut through ideas and emotions about the past. Clean and simple perhaps, but not always easy. I'd have to agree it's an art, and practicing it on the meditation cushion is the only thing that makes it possible for me to even approach that clean simplicity when starting a new project at work, or even dealing with new communication about an old project, so often weighed down by ideas that I'm attached to--ideas that I don't have to be attached to, however, and that's kind of amazing.

One can begin artlessly, with a carefree beginner's mind; one can begin with an art, with a skilful touch. There's a chance to do each on the cushion and off, over and over. If I look closely enough, I can detect a bit of a samsaric attitude to the whole effort. ha!

Clean, simple, fresh. This might be the third or fourth time I've done this, but I am really looking forward to the art of beginning again.

IDP is participating in lineage mentor Sharon Salzberg's REAL HAPPINESS Meditation ChallengeThis 28-day practice follows the the program outlined in Sharon’s New York Times bestseller, Real Happiness for the entire month of February. We encourage everyone to join us; since 2011, thousands have participated in this challenge which will help you develop your meditation with support from the entire community.​


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