Episode 7: Facing the Reflection in the Mirror with Duane Toops

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Estimated time to read: 3 minutes

The Podcast format

I’m sitting down and having a chat with other meditators from around the world to talk about their practice, the lessons they have learned and what they want the world to know. From Zen, Christianity to Secular, all traditions have valuable insights and approaches to awareness, and in this podcast, we explore those with you.

Learning how to deal with anxiety, depression and facing ourselves in the mirror

Experiencing the Journey

In this episode I talk with Duane Toops about his practice and his experience on the path of Meditation. Duane talks about his journey from Vipassana and Mindfulness to Chan Buddhism. Central to this talk is the idea of facing ourselves in the mirror. Seeing clearly where we are and working with what we have. It’s not always an easy experience, but ultimately it is the way forward to self-improvement and lasting change.

Duane’s mission is one of exposure, facing the fears and anxieties, opening up about what is going on. He shares his journey on his Youtube channel, showing his explorations in Chan Buddhism and meditation. What strikes me the most about Duane is his ability to both be determined, yet vulnerable. In our day and age, it is easy to create a ‘persona’. Someone who looks strong, even untouchable, and becomes our mask as we face the world. With Duane, it is masks off. A time to look into the mirror and face the person we have become.

The hopeful news is, once we’ve faced what we have become through mindfulness & meditation, we have the tools in our grasp to change. We have the tools to cultivate a new awareness, and it’s not hidden behind some secret paywall for the chosen few. The key is persistence. To keep doing it, whether we feel our formal sitting practice was going good or bad. If we keep doing it, keep going and work through those difficult of times, we can be sure to find ourselves in a different place altogether. Ultimately, it isn’t a different place, but a different perspective. As is said in Chan Buddhism: “Samsara is Nirvana”. In layman’s terms, salvation is right where we are. The idea of separateness is a concept that is just that, an empty concept.

it's all in the eye of the beholder

It takes time

It does take time. Time to experience what some of those Ancient Chan Masters seemed to point at. Time to find a different perspective on the same old thoughts and ideas we used to have. Duane talks a bit about his experience with depression and anxiety. Self criticism and anger are not unfamiliar to him, struggling with idea of how it should be, and how he should behave. Coming from a rather strict religious home, his journey involved de-attaching from those old concepts and ideas. Through Sam Harris and other teachings, he ultimately found himself landing on Buddhism. Drawn to the teachings and practice, he one day felt at home with this newfound religion. But is it really a new religion? Or is it a new way of discovering what power our mind contains?

Want to know more?

If you’d like to follow the journey of Duane, check out his YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ5hmW1yeMaF4wcU08FxqAw

If you’d like to talk about this podcast or have comments and ideas, please let me know by joining our community here https://discord.gg/FKWFeYq
Simply use @christiaan or send me a DM! I would love to hear from you.

With warm regards,

Christiaan

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