"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, July 10, 2016

Trouble in Mind

"Trouble in mind, babe, I'm blue,
but I won't be blue always
Yes, the sun gonna shine,
in my back door someday
-- Big Bill Broonzy, "Trouble in Mind"

“When you open yourself to the continually changing, impermanent,
dynamic nature of your own being and of reality,
you increase your capacity to love and care about other people
and your capacity to not be afraid."
-- Pema Chödrön, Practicing Peace in Times of War


I regularly Sit for an hour each morning.  I have no idea at this point whether this is a sign of an advanced practice, personal inadequacy, or addiction.  It's become a habit.  I just do it.

Over the years I've learned that labeling a particular meditation session "good" or "bad" is missing the point.  Although I certainly notice my own tendency to prefer the pleasant sensations of a particularly bright, calm and spacious quality of consciousness over the claustrophobic feeling tones of a doom and gloom melodrama or the buzzy feeling of endless discursive prattle, it is precisely there that Practice really begins.  Can i just sit with the experience, taste it fully,  and gently open further to accept whatever is happening?

I suppose this is a primary lesson of Mindfulness 101: A whole lot of needless suffering seems to emerge from our conditioned habit of mindlessly grasping onto the pleasant and reflexively rejecting the unpleasant.  Bringing that entire process into the light of Mindfulness, opening to the fluidity of our own actual experience and the underlying energies involved, a new world of possibility emerges.

As we bring Mindfulness to the present moment sometimes we see quite clearly that the "trouble in mind" is just that.  It is "mindstuff", quite ephemeral.  Oftentimes, it is just held in place by the narrative dominating our thinking.  As we let go of what Pema Chödrön* calls "the story line", the underlying feelings can be experienced as the changing, shifting energies that they are. Sometimes, just noticing that I'm thinking has changed things immediately.  I've seen the blues dissolve and the sun return to my back door in an instant.  

Yet, more frequently,  there are more deeply troubled waters involved.  Mindfulness Practice then becomes a bridge
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to a deeper understanding.  Gently and courageously opening our hearts and minds to the "blues" as they are embodied in our own experience, we come to see their nature.  Over time, we learn to stay with the experience as the energies shift and morph.   Gazing deeply, we also come to see that these feelings are universal.   As we open our hearts to our own experience, we find it easier to open our heart to others.


Over the years the bottom line has become become clearer and clearer:  When we are no longer strongly invested in grabbing for one thing and pushing away another, a new sense of ease and appreciation emerges.  When we aren't always attempting to dam the river of life, to make it conform to our own agenda, the flow gets to be even more deeply interesting and worthwhile.  

At times, that river dances and sparkles, reflecting the brilliant sun. At other times the river glowers. consuming storm clouds as it broils downstream.  It is still the river, ceaselessly flowing.

Then, at a certain point, we see that we, too, are the river.  So is everyone else.  At that point, Love becomes increasingly possible. 

It just takes Practice.

* Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron asks us to celebrate her 80th Birthday with a A Day of Practicing Peace.  This free event includes 8 hours of her dharma talks. For more: http://registerpema.shambhala.com/

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