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Spirit of the Valley
The Magazine of Mountain Wellness










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Bend Za Mind Pleaze

by Rev. Wendy Collins

The first snows bring anticipation of the coming months of winter sports. What are the similarities and differences between learning a spiritual practice and a new outdoor activity? If we choose, everything that we do can be used as a metaphor for deepening our moment-to-moment spiritual awareness.

When we first learned how to ski, we were single focused on the correct body position, hand position, bend of the knees (remember “Bend za knees pleaze” from the Austrian instructors). The key idea here is that we had a SINGLE FOCUS because of our desire to learn something new.

This ability to pay attention is the same skill that is needed as we embark on a spiritual path and stay on it. The difference with learning a physical activity and a mental (spiritual) activity is that once a new physical skill is learned, we can go on automatic and enjoy our new found sport while our mind is thinking about what we will be doing later, our finances, our relationships, our children, “etc, etc, and so forth”, with millions of thoughts flashing in our minds WHILE we are zooming down a steep face of a perfect snowy sloop and doing a great job of it!

A spiritual practice is NEVER a skill that we can put on automatic. The major objective and exercise in living a meditative and contemplative life is to pay attention to the information being flashed in our minds as much as possible.

This is not an easy task. Our mind, like a runaway horse takes an idea and gallops with it until we notice the thought is not what we want to be supporting as our truth. An example would be, as with gossiping about someone that is an automatic mental activity, as we would not CHOOSE to share negative comments about another. So, we must pay attention to our thoughts and direct them in a positive way that supports ourselves and others.

This strengthening and expanding of spiritual muscles is the one activity that we can learn that is not based on seasonal access and weather, not hampered by aging, nor dependent upon finances or relationships. Why would we not practice and develop a skill taught through the ages by the wisest sages of every tradition that is truly the key to personal freedom and complete happiness?

As we decide which activities to participate in and which new sports to learn this winter-----leave the words to Paul Simons song, “Slip sliding away, slip sliding away, the nearer your destination, the more you’re slip sliding away” to the past and make a New Year’s resolution that we deserve to develop a relationship within ourselves that deepens our joy and love in a way that no external activity can. Meditate, pray, study, share good thoughts with others. This winter day is beautiful! Enjoy it fully!

Watch our thoughts, because as we change our thinking, the things that we are thinking about change!