"Mindfulness Practice isn't just about escaping to some magical inner realm devoid of life's challenges. The Practice is about progressively opening your heart and calming your mind enough to engage Life directly, to be more fully Present in a kind, clear, and helpful way."

Your MMM Courtesy Wake Up Call! Musings on Life and Practice by a Long-time Student of Meditation.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

For Where Two or Three of You Are Gathered...

"To begin a sangha find one friend who would like to join you for sitting practice or walking practice or tea meditation or sharing."
-- Thich Nhat Hanh

"Mostly we think of awakening as an individual affair. The teachings can make it sound like that. But in Buddhism we practice together, awaken together, and understand together. "
 -- Norman Fischer

These past few weeks of Monday Morning Mindfulness have certainly reaffirmed a belief that I've held for quite awhile now: 

Anyone who makes an effort to explore the nature of their own experience consciously, and then has the opportunity to compare notes on this effort with others similarly engaged, will come to understand the reality of the human condition, the nature of suffering, and means of its release at a deeper level.  

Sharing the Practice works.

As the small group of us who have been meeting for Monday Morning Mindfulness "Beginner's Mind--and Beyond" have continued our exploration of Mindfulness Practice and examined the question "why bother?" together for the past several sessions, it's only gotten better and better. The essential sincerity--and competence--of those gathered on Monday morning continues to amaze me.   

It makes my heart glow.

As I sit here and turn my attention to the memories of those sessions, I am struck with a sense of awe and a feeling of gratitude for having shared those moments with other folks who have the heart and courage to explore Life and Practice in this way.  At a time in which clinging to problematic institutional truths (or living out our  un-examined reactions to those traditional worldviews) threatens our very existence on the planet,  I believe such efforts to share Practice are crucial.  

The survival of our species, and many others on this planet, may well depend on it.  
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Saturday, May 6, 2017

A Solid Grasp of Reality?

“In reality there are no separate events. Life moves along like water,
it's all connected to the source of the river is connected to the mouth and the ocean.”
-- Alan Watts, The Essential Alan Watts

It’s not impermanence per se, or even knowing we’re going to die, that is the cause of our suffering, the Buddha taught. Rather, it’s our resistance 
to the fundamental uncertainty of our situation.
All I could do was grin.  Eight of us had gathered at our Mindfulness Circle that week to meditate and then explore the second slogan of the Lojong Trainings: "Regard All Dharmas As Dreams".

Although all assembled, myself included, were essentially beginners in the study of these Teachings, I imagine the energetic, sincere, often profound, sometimes amusing, discussion that emerged could have been a conversation among senior monks somewhere.  Although a couple of folks, perhaps quite aware of the limitations, perhaps even the inadvisability, of placing our collective attention on words and discursive thought didn't participate, the rest of us jumped right in. 

As I understood it, what materialized was no more, no less than a conversation about the true nature of reality and our individual ability to actually experience the truth of our existence. Although none of us is really a Buddhist scholar and some of us may not even consider ourselves Buddhists with a capital B,  assertions about Emptiness, Impermanence, Non-Self, Co-dependent Origination, Interdependence and Oneness, were offered and explored,  dissected and re-assembled.  

In about forty minutes we covered a lot of ground exploring the "groundlessness" of existence.

I loved it.  

At several points the fundamentals of Zen were touched on as phrases were turned, then turned on their heads without altering the meaning at all!  Even when there was apparent "disagreement" with a presentation or mode of presentation, it still felt like we were all basically on the same page.  There was an underlying fabric of good will and good heart all the while.  It was an absolute hoot -- relatively speaking. 

It made my heart glow.

Gaining a "solid grasp of reality" is often considered to be one of the important aspects of growing up in
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Friday, April 28, 2017

When It Rains...

"The way to dissolve our resistance to life is to meet it face to face...When we want to complain about the rain, we could feel it's wetness instead."
-- Pema Chodron

“The best thing one can do when it is raining is to let it rain. ” 
-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

It's been one of those weeks.  

Although I'm relatively busy for a retired old coot, it's not like I have to punch in for forty hours a week anymore and then take care of all the rest of the basic elements of life in this hyped-up version of human "civilization."  These days I often have the time and space to wander aimlessly a bit, maybe even take a nap in the afternoon a few days a week.  

Not so this week.  

Time and time again, when I thought I could finally get some down time, something else came up.  When it rains, it pours.

When it rains, it pours.  

Not content with metaphor, Mother Nature made that old adage literal this last week of April as well.  In the midst of all the unanticipated busyness, She even upped the ante to soak us with another old maxim.  It showered on and off all week.  She poured her heart out to insure that next week will bring abundant May flowers.  As a result, the sun disappeared for days at at time -- and I often had to juggle an umbrella along with my toolbox.

There was a time that "rainy days and mondays would always get me down."  If the truth be told, though, these days I actually don't mind rain.  In fact, I usually love it.  It is always a chance to get real.

Whether it's a soft foggy drizzle or a thunder-booming rip-snorting whizzbanger -- or anything in-between -- once I'm just present for the actual experience, there is something immensely alive and vibrant about the rain.  Dancing beyond our ability to control it, Mother Nature just is.  She will just do what she will do -- no matter how we think or feel about it.  Why not relax and dig it!? 

At this very moment

I feel a lot of gratitude for Mindfulness Practice at this very moment.  

As I sit here with fingers dancing across the keyboard, I see the sun playing hide and seek with storm clouds through the skylight. Through the open window I hear the wind singing in the trees, a collection of birds twittering .  I also hear the sounds of Betsy's twin grandkids chattering towards a nap downstairs.  

Pausing, letting go for a moment of "thinking mind", I'm aware of my breath and the sensations of my body sitting here.  I feel the wind dancing across my skin through that same open window.  The sounds ebb and flow.  The sensations ebb and flow. 

Life is like that, too.  
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