“But what about your savings for when you retire? Aren’t you concerned about your future?”
My father and I were standing in the kitchen arguing about my decision to train in a Zen monastery. I’d been there for over two years and every time we’d see each other, we would inadvertently go “here” in the conversation. His major objection was that I wasn’t out in the world making money, putting it away toward what I might need. No 401(k). From his point of view, this was a prime time for me to be working and saving money, while I was in my 30s.
I would yell back at him, “But there is no future! There is only now!” which would cause him to look at me like I was the biggest fool in the world.
I hated this stupid argument. He was just trying to drive me crazy and control me like he and my mother had been trying to do for years. This was a senseless battle. He would never understand my point of view, and I would certainly never adopt his fear-based one.
I looked over at him standing beside the sink, shaking his head in disbelief. And then it fell in. The insight dropped in and I spoke it out loud. I knew I was talking out loud because he turned to look at me suddenly.
I blurted, “Omigod! You’re saying all of this because you love me. Not because you hate me or you’re trying to drive me crazy or control me. You love me!”
He looked at me and I looked at him for what seemed like an eternity. I can’t tell which one of us broke down first, because the only thing I remember next is that I was hugging him and tears streamed out of our eyes. He said, “Of course I love you. Both Mom and I love you very much. We just want the best for you.” And I was repeating, “Thank you. I love you. I know. Thank you.” We stood crying in each other’s arms.
You must understand that this had never happened before. My dad and I expressed nothing remotely emotional with each other. Ever. Now, here we were, open and vulnerable. Telling each other we loved one another.
All because of a shift.
A shift in perspective. A way of seeing that wasn’t available a moment before. One that allowed me to see the truth and to speak it out loud. To change the relationship between my father and me forever.
You see, it wasn’t a tactic or a plot to bring us together. I didn’t learn how to create great relationships at the Zen monastery where I was training. And I’m not sharing this with you now so you can go to the person you’re fighting with and try this “technique” out on them. That’s what I see in everything I read about in personal development. They all tell you to “Do this. Do that. Say this. Say that. Manipulate this. Manipulate that.” All surface level “changes” that rearrange with no depth or understanding.
What no one realizes (and what I didn’t realize) is we need to unlearn all this information we’ve been taught so we can be present with what is. With who is. With ourselves. With Life.
So we can see. Hear. Feel. Touch. Taste. Smell. Love. Be With. All of it.
The reason people see me and experience me as a grounded person who responds and is present with them is that I’m here. Presence is not something you can learn. It’s something you must shift into. Like the “ah-ha” of a puzzle piece clicking into place when you stop trying so hard.
You don’t have to change a thing in your life to experience everything as completely different. When I was in that kitchen with my father, we were still the same people we were a moment before. Two people with the same opinions and values. I went back to train at the monastery for another decade and he wished that I was out in the world making money.
What changed was this: I suddenly saw what was missing between us and what I could never unsee.
P.S. Whenever you’re ready… here are 4 ways I can help you with your practice so you can live The Zen Life wherever you are:
1. Join The Zen Life mailing list.
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2. Learn to meditate in less than 90 minutes.
Meditation is the key to staying in the foundation of a daily Zen practice. It will train you to keep your attention where you want it. My online workshop is the first step. Click Here to read more and get started today.
3. Download the syllabus for my 30-day online retreat.
Quiet the inner chatter and dispel your unhelpful, limiting beliefs. Discover the wisdom, clarity, and compassion that can guide you through life perfectly. Click Here to read more and get the syllabus for the program.
4. Work with me privately.
If you’d like to explore the possibility of receiving one-on-one guidance — so you can master the art of living The Zen Life… contact me. Tell me a little about what’s going on in your life, what you’d like to work on together, and I’ll get you all the details!
Originally published at www.zenlife.coach.
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