practice no harm

February 7th, 2018


When folks begin to practice Zen, they can be set back by how hard it is. They might have expected to be good at it—for certain they expected something—but what they are good at is something else altogether.

Why is it so hard to just breathe? Because you’ve been practicing holding your breath.

Why is it so hard to keep my eyes open? Because you’ve been practicing falling asleep.

Why is it so hard to be still? Because you’ve been practicing running amok.

Why is it so hard to be quiet? Because you’ve been practicing talking to yourself.

Why is it so hard to pay attention? Because you’ve been practicing inattention.

Why is it so hard to relax? Because you’ve been practicing stress.

Why is it so hard to trust? Because you’ve been practicing fear.

Why is it so hard to have faith? Because you’ve been trying to know.

Why is it so hard to feel good? Because you’ve been practicing feeling bad.

Whatever you practice, you’ll get very good at, and you’ve been practicing these things forever. Take your own life as proof that practice works as long as you keep doing it. Just replace a harmful practice with one that does no harm.


For the benefit of those who will be practicing with me at any of these places, and especially for those who won’t be able to make it.

Winter Sun Retreat, Madison WI, March 1-4
Beginner’s Mind One-Day Retreat, LA, March 18
What is Zen? Retreat, Kansas City, April 13-15

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  1. I am getting much better at lowering my expectations. Which is the direct result of practice. The more I practice, the less I expect. Thank you for this. My book club read Paradise in Plain Sight. We are meeting tomorrow night to talk too much. We will start by reading this though. xo

    Comment by Sarah — October 21, 2014 @ 8:43 am

  2. When the student is ready, the teacher appears….

    Comment by marilee pittman — October 21, 2014 @ 8:54 am

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    Pingback by On Showing Up | Stephanie Renaud — February 7, 2018 @ 7:06 am

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