Monday, July 17, 2017

Discovering Personal Freedom

Author: Sifu Matt Carver

What a week we had at Zen Recovery Path.  Our alternative treatment method allows us to do things pretty different round here.  For example, we learned that with freedom comes responsibility.  On Tuesday for the 4th of July, we went deep sea fishing with all 20 of our students in recovery off the coast of Catalina Island in Southern California.  Legend has it, Catalina Island is an ancient scallywag hang-out as well as a pirate safe deposit box (i.e. buried treasure).  Arg, we didn’t find any treasure (in the shiny, shiny precious, precious sense) but we did unearth our connection with freedom, ironically, as we stumbled around a boat attempting to enslave unwitting barracuda, calico bass and bonita.  Yes, we rang in the liberation of America by capturing fish.  Two steps forward, one step back.  But wow what a haul!!  Our students got to keep their catches and had a cook out party the following day.  So, like good natives, at least we ate what we caught and shared our spoils among our community. J

We had an amazing time and Poseidon was generous.  Students had a chance to practice mindfulness and nowness in a completely unforeseeable present moment.  Learning how to be aware and connected in the present moment is one of the main practices we focus on at Zen Recovery.  Creating and sharing moments where we can practice this connection to the present is enlightenment.  Catching fish is fun too.  The smell of the salt water.  The sounds of the sea birds.  The uncanny ability of a sea lion to rob our hooks of bait leaving only the hooked part of the bait on the line.  These sea lions knew somehow that our bait had a hook in it and avoided the hook with a 100% success rate.  Those salty sea lions robbed us blind.  This worked out well though because it gave us an opportunity to discuss the difference between fishing with a hook and fishing with a net.  A net is a broad all-encompassing approach that just casts a big trap over all swimming creatures in an area.  You may catch what you are looking for but you will also catch a bunch of stuff you would have preferred to do without.  A hook, however, is a one bait for one fish sort of method.  You may not catch much but you catch what you seek.  Knowing what you want and how to capture it is an enriching thought and fun practice. 

Again, our theme for this entire week was Freedom.  The concept of freedom was explored in all our groups this week and the theme ran through many of our private dialogues and experiences together as well.  Freedom from the bondage of self was a popular topic.  How one finds this sense of liberation in their day to day experiences?  How one can give this gift of freedom to others?  How do we share freedom. A wise seeker of freedom once said, “Iron bars a prison does not make.”  In other words, many of us feel the cage around us but forget that we made the cage, and we have the key, and the door isn’t even locked anyways!  You can be free whenever you decide to want to be free. Solid week at Zen.  Stay in the Now.