Dear MMM Folks,
One image that came to mind repeatedly in the days that followed MMM was Stephanie's playful assertion that "she was bad" because she hadn't meditated during the week. My heart glowed as I remembered the kind and compassionate laughter that emerged in the moment that followed. It felt like we all could relate--on many levels--to her comment.
In the meandering discussion that emerged during that day's "check in", I never got back to fully express what that moment had brought to mind. So days later, here it is:
Although cultivating a formal practice is wonderful and I encourage each of you to create the space and time in your lives to Sit (or Stand or Lie Down or Walk or......), Mindfulness can and does occur in and of itself at any moment. It can emerge as just taking one conscious breath in the midst of the day. It can emerge as we open the door and feel the doorknob in our hand; noticing the texture of the metal, feeling the motion of our arms and legs as we pass through the Portal.
Mindfulness can and will certainly emerge as we Sit in "formal" meditation at a home altar with incense burning. Yet it also emerges at the moment that we notice the warmth of the sun on the back of our necks as we walk down the street. It can happen as we remember to actually feel our feet on the earth as we walk in the park, yet it may "just happen" as we meet the eyes of a friend--or a stranger--and feel the Connection made. Those simple moments of Presence are available to each of us--with or without our intention. We may not even notice that we notice! (When I first read that in the Genjokoan, a classic Zen text, I thought "Damn! How cool is that?)
So, if that's the case, why bother? Why Practice? That is a classic theme that is reflected through a great many Zen koans and stories.
Well, as best as I can figure it, our Intention and Commitment to Practice just heightens the probability that we will bring MIndfulness into a more central position in our lives. We've all been so heavily programmed to be distracted and scattered and stressed out as we scurry ahead in our very materialistic society, we may have to grab the proverbial Bull by the Horns, and decide to relax a bit and be more fully Aware of our LIfe as it is actually experienced moment to moment.
With that commitment we simply decide to relate more intimately to Life Itself.
So, with that, once again I encourage you to remember to take the time each day, whether it is one full conscious breath sitting at your desk or one moment standing at the window watching the rain create perfect circles in a puddle (your soooo bad, Stephanie*)--or actually hunkering down with a timer and the intention to Meditate for X minutes. The willingness to make that Commitment is, in some Zen circles, considered to be inseparable from Enlightenment itself. In the Christian tradition, perhaps, it's like Jesus saying "seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened". How cool is that?
Whew. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest! Hope to see ya on Monday!