"Mindfulness and Meditation allow us to open our hearts, relax our bodies, and clear our minds enough to experience the vast, mysterious, sacred reality of life directly. With Practice we come to know for ourselves that eternity is available in each moment.

Your MMM Courtesy Wake Up Call:
Musings on Life and Practice
by a Longtime Student of Meditation

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Body of Wisdom

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

"When you listen to your body in this way, you can also feel that it’s the Earth’s body. Its bones are made of Earth minerals, calcium and magnesium, and there is seawater in your blood. Your body is everything you eat. It’s not just your body but part of something bigger: you are the Earth come alive."
-- Jack Kornfield

Reverend Gyomay Kubose (1905 - 2000)
When I observed my first Zen teacher dry mopping the wooden floor of the Zendo at the Buddhist Temple of Chicago years ago, I was awestruck.  
I hadn't seen anything like it before. 

There was a simple grace in his bearing, a Presence in his slow mindful steps that was astonishing. 

It was obvious to me that Reverend Gyomay Kubose, in his 70's at the time, was connected to his body, to the smooth wooden floors of the Buddhist Temple of Chicago -- and to Life itself -- in an entirely different way than I'd seen before.  

Embodied Practice

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 2,500 years.  In these teachings, the development of a fuller awareness of our bodies is seen as a means of cultivating a calmer and clearer sense of the entire realm of our own experience.  

Beginning with focusing our attention on the process of breathing, attention can be directed in a number of ways to more fully experience our bodies.  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 always breathing, and our bodies and our sensory apparatus are operating to generate a whole realm of experiences, most of this 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 largely 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, most definitely, was not sleepwalking that day.  He was awake to the present moment, to the Oneness of Life Itself. 
The Theory and the Practice

In a Mindfulness Circle (now online on Zoom) last week, I found myself mentioning that it may be helpful to create a specific practice intention for the day when you awake in the morning.  Then, in the evening, we have a chance to reflect on how that intention influenced -- or didn't influence -- the day as we prepare for sleep.

I even listened to my own advice.

Remembering Reverend Kubose's unspoken teaching from years ago,  I chose to place more of my attention in my belly (the hara) and to be aware of my feet contacting the ground every time I moved from place to place during the day.  I can't say that I remembered to do that every time I walked during the course of the day, but when I did, it changed things.

Each time I got out of my head and "lowered my center of gravity," there was a shift.  With this shift, the entire range of sensory experience opened up.   As well as feeling my belly and my feet and the ground more distinctly as I walked down the street that day, the sky often got bluer, the crisp air more invigorating, and the soundscape more vibrant.

I love it when that happens.

Although some folks tend to proclaim the superiority of mind over matter, it seems to me that they may have it backwards.  Our bodies are a lot wiser than we think.  Our "gut feeling" may often be more accurate than an exhaustive and exhausting pro's and con's analysis. 
Opening the Door

That being the case, my belly and feet decided to stay with this intention for a while. In many magical moments throughout the week, the Pure Land of the Buddha, the Kingdom of Heaven didn't seem theoretical.  The Presence of the One Love was palpable.

In fact, coming to my senses moments ago, I again remembered.  I got out of my head and lowered my attention into my belly and feet as I came upstairs.  A dazzling reflection of the sun glistened in the door handle as I reached to open the door.  I then felt the cool smoothness of the knob as I twisted it. The door then opened into the gleaming grandeur of the Present Moment.

It just takes Practice.


Unknown said...

Thank you for being you and sharing this heart touching truth.
Much love

Linda Lee said...

The connection between mind and body has a particular significance to me. The knowledge that slowing down and noticing each moment can bring a sense of awe and appreciation for the now. is a favorite way to practice mindfulness. Having been taught that this body is something that we are so attached to, and realizing that it’s actually a bunch of vegetable goo that ages and dies, my attitude towards it has a couple different angles. I’m doing some serious energy work with the body lately, and it requires my commitment to heal with certain practices. Therefore, I must stay grateful for having one at all. Humor is essential. Thanks once more Lance for causing me to look closely at my perspective on everything!

from the void said...

Dear Lance
Great writing again...especially in the end....shifting your awareness to your belly....
And the great thing is ,,,i experienced...that one can do this every moment he/she remembers....it's like a kind of fuel,,,
And Linda lee also nice to read !