"Mindfulness Practice isn't just about escaping to some magical inner realm devoid of life's challenges. The Practice is about calming your mind and opening your heart 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.

Friday, March 7, 2014

A Moment's Thought

"One can appreciate and celebrate each moment -- there is nothing more sacred.
There is nothing more vast and absolute.  In fact, there is nothing more."
-- Pema Chödron, 
Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living

“Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. 
Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.” 
-- Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace



I had thought that we folks in Western Massachusetts really had a lot of snow on the ground.  Now, after a 17 hour drive westward, it seems like a dusting.  The Chicago area really has a lot of snow on the ground!

Of course if I was in the mountains of Colorado,  even this could be seen as "no big deal".  And so it goes.  The thinking mind, tending to compare, tending to exaggerate, tending to speculate, can create all sorts of storylines about the winter snow cover.  It can and will do that about anything and everything.  All too often, it's just another snow job.

When I just gaze at the sun and shadows playing across the snowfield outside the window, when I open to the sounds of the birds twittering, the wind softly moaning, and the traffic humming in the distance here at my son's house north of Chicago, when I let go of the storyline and just feel myself sitting here breathing, the world immediately expands.  Rather than being constrained by the fetters of thought, It becomes vast and wondrous.

It happens every time I pause and stop typing.  (You could, perhaps, pause here for a moment or two and open up to those other channels of your own experience right now before clicking READ MORE)

Now, after a moment, (did you actually pause and take a few conscious breaths?), thoughts work their way into my fingers, and you and I continue--and therein lies the rub.  It's not that thinking is a BAD thing, exactly.  (Although I'm tempted to pester any of you who didn't pause: Do it! LOL)

No, it's not that thinking is bad.  In fact, the part of our being that generates thoughts is itself an absolute wonder.  Although it is obvious that thoughts can ensnare us incessantly in a web of distraction, although they can distort reality in a deep and fundamental way, they are also capable of being extremely helpful and useful, creating word pictures that can improve the quality of our lives in substantial and practical ways.   Although the thinking mind can catapult us out of the moment into endless dramas about yesterday and tomorrow, it is also capable of poetic brilliance, expressing insight and inspiration that helps bring us to the wonder of the present moment.  Although it's clear to me that we meet Truth directly through a sensibility beyond words, the thinking mind in itself isn't bad.  Like anything else, it simply is.  At times, thoughts can help pave the way to hell -- or grease the skids to heaven.

One of the major merits of Mindfulness Practice is that we are able to expand our awareness to embrace thought in the arms of a clearer, kinder, and more comprehensive quality of consciousness.
The process of Sitting Still and merely noticing that we are thinking, making the mental note "thinking" with as much grace and gentleness as we can muster before returning our attention to our breathing, (and/or our bodily sensations, our other senses, or other meditation object), can be transformative.  

With Practice, the quality of our own experience shifts.  Rather than dominating our awareness and becoming a sovereign soloist in the unique hymn of our own experience, the thinking mind returns to its proper place as a member of the choir.  As we return to present moment with all our senses engaged; feeling the dancing sensations of our breath and body, hearing the sounds play across the ever present silence, eyes attuned to the symphony of colors around us, hearts open to the entire universe of human feeling, the Present Moment emerges as the Miracle that it is.

Our thoughts can sing in harmony with this -- or not.  In the all embracing heart of the present moment, even dissonance isn't necessarily a bad thing. It simply is.  With Practice we can celebrate and appreciate it as well.

At least, that's what I'm thinking at the moment!

1 comment:

Michael Pollitt said...

Wonderful post there Lefty. Got me to thinkin'...
-funny too. Never stop with the funny.
Yes I paused. Thanks. The forced air heating vents had just kicked on at Miriam's house like a long, huge endless breath or perhaps a sigh, yeah more like a sigh. A dog barks down the street as I write back to you. Oh, the long 'sigh' just came to an end.
Loved the bit about "comparisons" - we're all comparing so much of the time. Sometimes I think its a sickness. I hear it around me a thousand times a day. And in my own voice and thoughts of course. What's for sure is that it takes me away from the moment and where I'm at.
Just in this thought about "comparing" lies a world of insight into presence awareness.

Lovely photo of the snow job...
-see you back here soon, Michael