Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is the only moment.”
It was obvious to me that Reverend Gyomay Kubose, in his 70's at the time, was connected to his body -- and to the smooth wooden floors of the Chicago Buddhist Temple -- in an entirely different way than I'd seen before.
The first of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, Mindfulness of Body, is a concept that stretches back to the earliest texts of Buddhism. The Anapanasati and Maha Satipathana Suttas spell out the details of meditative techniques which have been widely taught for about 2500 years. In these teachings, the development of a fuller awareness our bodies is seen as a means of cultivating a calmer and clearer sense of the entire realm of our own experience. Often beginning with focusing our attention on the process of breathing itself, attention can be directed in a number of ways to more fully experience our bodies. Then, as Mindfulness Practice deepens and we become more fully present to what we are experiencing on deeper and subtler levels, REALITY asserts itself.
At a certain point, the Real Deal becomes self-evident.
Getting From There to Here
Conditioned as we are, most of us are "in our heads" most of the time. Although we are obviously always breathing, and our bodies and our sensory apparatus are operating to generate a whole realm of experiences, most of that occurs without our full presence of mind. Generally, conditioned as we are, the focus of our attention is primarily on the thoughts running through our head.
Fueled by emotional energies, subconscious beliefs, and conditioned filters that we are mostly unaware of, these thoughts dominate our awareness in a way that sweeps us along the stream of our own conditioned ego patterns most the time. Mindfulness Practice, both on and off the meditation cushion, offers us a means to expand our range of awareness to include a universe of experience that we generally aren't aware of. Without Practice we are liable to "sleepwalk", only half-awake, throughout our lives.
Reverend Kubose was definitely not sleepwalking that day. He was awake to the present moment, to the majesty of Life Itself.