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Cultivating Serenity

Serenity and I once were strangers.
I was best described as intense, or energetic,
Never serene.
For the longest time
Serenity was something I saw in a rare few others
But something I'd not expected myself ever to possess.
It seemed foreign to my nature
Not a thing I ever could cultivate.
And yet, here it is, serenity.
A part of me I more and more frequently manifest.
Having discovered my hitherto unrecognized
Talent for serenity I've decided to try
And cultivate it.
Perhaps as with farming,
I can make more of a science of it,
Increase my yield
And teach the beneficial techniques to others.
Recognizing how, in the realm of feelings
There are limits to the value of the analytical,
I shall allow myself for a moment to analyze:
What is serenity made of?
For me it consists of feeling I am:
These seem like delicate components to grow
Especially in this world overflowing with their antithesis.
I'd received good advice to use:
        And the all-important letting go,
To convert the dung of
Unpleasant experiences, reactions and habits
Into fertilizer.
I cultivate a patch of each aspect
And from the whole garden harvest serenity.
When presented with the feeling of inadequacy
From weakness, self-doubt, fatigue or loss of motivation,
I pause,
And search for a seed of adequacy.
I practice at biding my time
Until I act from a position of sufficiency.
When finding myself agitated or stressed
By worry, or over-enthusiasm
I breathe
And seek to modulate, accept or let go as necessary
Until I act from a position of calmness.
When finding myself leaping to judgment,
Perceiving unfairness, malice or incompetence,
I remember myself in times of pain
And seek to manifest compassion in my action.
Such an under-rated commodity.
I have seen how triumphalism, or oppressiveness in action
Harms the outcome, displaces serenity and degrades other people.
So I seek to remember my humanity:
How I am different from everyone, yet no better than anyone.
Made from curiosity, receptivity and attentiveness,
It is the firm and flexible foundation for effective listening.
It is grown by transforming fear, hostility, rejection, anger,
And so many other habits of judgment.
I practice.
Slowly, but with greater frequency, I find
Non-habitual interpretations
That are accurate, but which affirm openness.
Previously a difficult state of mind to achieve,
It became more common as I practiced
A regular regime of re-observing the world,
Stating accurate observations but from an affirmative point of view.
More frequently finding myself open and humble also helped.
It is ideally a feeling of being centered.
I find it by tempering or modulating passion.
Sometimes through deep breathing or a centering ritual,
Recalling that I have the sufficiency and calmness to wait.
These are the practices I have followed for each one.
My harvest is mixed,
Sometimes great, sometimes small.
Perhaps they will work for you.
A crop well worth the effort:
Cultivating serenity.

27 August 2004

by Bill Cattey