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To Anchor Within Instead of Outwardly


As a child, like most, I tried to anchor myself in my parents to gain a sense of stability. But with my father's alcoholism and violence, and my mother pursuing her university degree, neither could provide an anchor. The mental and emotional availability was pretty absent.


I turned to my brother, five years older than me, but was kicked to the curb by him and his friends, being nicknamed the "Little Goof" because I was awkward and "Uncool." Their rejection fueled the thought that I was not enough, which morphed me into a constant "seeker," trying to find a solution to what thought like an incomplete or broken sense of self.


Based on those thought urges that metastasized into a storyline of being "damaged goods," I anchored in the fantasy of comic books. My favorite was the Green Lantern, who as it turned out only seem to have superpowers as a result of a ring he wore on his finger. As a kid, I obsessed... ruminated on it so much, I ended up stealing them from my brother's collection, wanting to be a superhero because my mind always pointed out how I was a super zero.


After that, I was anchored in friends at school, then books, then drugs, then ideas of god, then other people's approval systems, then work and grind culture m, making a lot of money but neglecting my inner presence. Thinking mind was always pushing me to look to anchor on the outside. It was the religion of always being anchored externally... Until Zen.


In Zen, I was invited and encouraged to stop anchoring outside myself. The experience was 100% counterintuitive given the habit of searching for happiness and peace from the outside. As humans most of us are trained and conditioned to put our center of gravity and anchor in places other than our True Nature.


Zen practice verged on being intolerable because of being so overwhelmed by thinking when I stopped running around, playing hide and seek with myself. What I was calling "my mind" and "my thoughts" definitely were not my own because I had zero control or say over them. Initially, I would sit down, and instantly I would be hit with what felt like millions of thoughts falling on me all at once. More than once, I'd sit down only to pop up like a cork from my meditation seat. The pressure was so intense.


But eventually... as a result of not giving up on myself and the guidance of an experienced Zen teacher, who didn't allow me to anchor myself in him... I learned to really... seriously put my butt on the meditation seat... directing attention inward to anchor in my soft belly instead of the thinking mind. It seemed like a miracle happened. All I learned was to move my anchor from outside to inward.


That's not to ignore or pretend away the so-called "outside world." It's being with it, anchored to my original Buddha nature, also what could be called "Universal Loving Presence" in Western culture. Then no greed, no hatred, no anger, no anxiety or delusion. The invitation is to practice steadily and experience Reality instead of just thinking about it.


Where is your anchor? Is it You or every one... every thing... every where and when else? Wherever our anchor is, that tends to be our center of gravity. If that's outside of ourselves... uh-oh!


And again, let me be clear, I'm not saying to have deep and meaningful relationships with people, places, and things. I'm saying I was better served by having those relationships and maintaining an anchor within myself, which allowed me to maintain internal contentment and peace.


一We Are the Practice Itself

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