Living Mindfully… ‘Appreciation’

by meditative - March 30th, 2017

It’s not what we would like or don’t have, but all that we do have…

It’s taking pause in our day… every day… to be still and simply reflect on what’s GOOD and what’s RIGHT about our own lives. We are enough and we have enough in our lives to be genuinely happy & content. We only have to look within to see and feel the abundance.

Allow your heartfelt appreciation to flow freely in both your Way of being & doing. Be grateful to yourself and to others… and as you come to see clearly the gifts in your own life, you also begin to see what is missing in the lives of others.

The present moment is here & now… embrace it… live it… and appreciate it… for the only moment we ever really have… is this one.

Why Is Paying Attention So Important?

by meditative - May 11th, 2016

Be Aware & Be Amazed!

Attention or awareness is the essence of our practice, because every moment in life is absolute in itself. No two contiguous moments are the same. That’s all there is. There is nothing other than this present moment; there is nothing but “this”. So when we don’t pay attention to each little “this”, we miss details and qualities of our ever flowing and changing moments. Experiences slip by because they are riddled and obscured by our personal priorities- by our streams of thoughts and emotions. We forget to be present, and the space for directly experiencing reality often becomes filled with discursive “mental chatter”. Focused, concentrated attention disallows our mind’s “reverie” from taking front and center stage. We remain attentive to reality as it is right now. In our awareness practice, we notice how our thoughts affect the sensations in our body- and how they affect our behaviors. We are capable of taking it all in, with an intention to pay deliberate attention- and with an open invitation to receive and accept over and over again.

With this intention to pay attention, we are no longer the “center” of our experience in the here and now. We are part of this observational process…  this moment-to-moment awareness… seeing and sensing the subtleties arising in mind and body with clarity and precision. In awareness, we do not get “stuck” in our observation, because we witness these phenomenological arisings or events nonjudgmentally as they are. We explore all our happenings with curiosity, equanimity, and openhearted acceptance regardless of content as they may ultimately manifest as insight to help us to better understand, discern, and to liberate ourselves from a limiting process of self-identification.

Awareness teaches us that our events of mind are simply that. We are not what we experience, but our experience is of interest. Our thoughts and our feelings are made up. They are subordinate to the reality of what is happening and what we are directly experiencing. More often than not our “mental chatter” gets in the way of the flow of information from our direct experience. We cannot possibly know the truth if we are constantly caught up in the flow of our minds- nor can we effectively regulate the flow of information for contextual discernment with this obscurity and confusion of mind. Awareness is the antidote to our obscurity, confusion, and ignorance of mind.

Into awareness, we practice again and again working with our conditioned patterns of thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations- exploring & examining the boundless nature of our mind. With a daily regimen, we transcend the limits of our patterns to refine our open awareness, and our ability to freely and deliberately pay attention. To truly be aware is to be amazed at what our direct experiences may hold. In the purity of awareness, we are revealed a higher order of consciousness for learning, understanding, growing, healing, and transforming our lives. Practice and discover this truth for yourself…

The Act of ‘Awarenessing’

by meditative - May 1st, 2016

Our “support” of mind is a stability of awareness.

Steady even through the turbulent winds of the mind. Awareness of awareness is the “support” of the mind. Through our regular awareness training with shamatha or attending exercises, we practice again and again to cultivate this “support”- this capacity to remain unmoved by the events of mind regardless of their content. Awake, we are conscious with some observational distance of what is happening. Seeing and noticing without indulging… and in this wakefulness, there is “space” or “emptiness” opening up within us… expanding and settling us into a clearer and calmer state of mind.

In this “space” we are simply watching and observing the activities of mind intimately and sensitively minus the “personal identification” with what is witnessed. The act of “awarenessing” is this stability of awareness- this simple acknowledgment of what is observed… sensed… felt…or thought… just as it is.

Thoughts, feelings, sensations, and images are all part of this moving and changing kaleidoscope of the mind. They rise, periodically intensify, and subside in a shifting and flowing rhythm. Abidingly, we observe their “dance” and their movement. They attract our attention without capturing it. We are meditative in our attention and the objects of attention help to develop our awareness. In awareness, our practice gives us space to view the “viewer” in a calm and abiding way. The relative fitness of our mind is conditioned by the strength of our capacity to sustain our full attention. Our “attentional muscles” are focused in small ways early in our practice and then gradually expanded into larger, more challenging realms as we develop greater concentration and confidence. Over time, our capacity to pay attention can become highly refined and discerning to do the difficult work of penetrating, stripping down, and transmuting our limiting habitual patterns.

We experience the power of mind- the energy to create and dissolve our psychic conditions through awareness and attention- through balanced effort- and through clear, purposeful intention. Stability of awareness sustains the ‘energy’ and ‘light’ of mindfulness. It is the “support” we need to come to know and to understand the activities of mind, as well as the nature of our own being.

Understanding the Drama of ‘Self’

by meditative - April 14th, 2016

Do we see clearly our condition of mind- all the assumptions and judgments? Do we see how we label and categorize perceptions of mind- what is “good”, “bad”, and “neutral”? Do we notice our fixation and grasping tendencies of what is labeled “good”? How about our rejection, denial, and avoidance of what is labeled as “bad”? That which we label as “neutral” or uninteresting, we tend to ignore. It is our perceptions that seed these habits of mind.

The mental treadmill of desire and aversion is an exhausting process- and much of what happens in between is rarely even attended. We cycle in and out of personal drama- a tug of war between grasping pleasure and comfort, and avoiding pain and discomfort. Genuine peace and happiness tend to elude us. We swim against the current as there arises growing resistance and tension to accept the constant change surrounding the potentiality to maintain pleasure and to avoid facing pain. Everything “ordinary “or “neutral” that arises in between is often missed as we are so enmeshed and caught up in our recurrent melodramas- from one end of the “continuum” to the other.

We come to see our psychic disturbances and patterns more clearly with a deeper understanding of their nature- their motives and mechanisms. Our mind becomes transformed by our heart-felt intent and understanding. We soften to let go and strengthen to embrace. We clear the way to see, relate, and adapt with a discerning yet expansively inclusive perspective. We learn to label less and experience more. What was once critical and judgmental becomes open and receptive. We see our patterns to perceive mainly out of our fear to just be and accept as we are. Our past is our present, and our ‘presence’ is our future.  When we come to understand by living this ‘Way’, then the light of our nature begins to illuminate a very different experience of the world.

Beyond the drama of ‘self’ there is ‘pure experience’. It is the wisdom to see the ‘truth’ in our experiences as an unbiased witness or observer directly connected to what is arising as it is happening. We become sensitized to reality and less enslaved by the illusions and projections of our mind’s self-perpetuating narrative. It is our practice and our ‘Way’ of being and living with mindfulness, mindful intelligence, and ‘mindsight’ that enables us to become sensitively aware of our thoughts, feelings, and deeds. As we “chase” & “avoid” less, we discover there is more to experience. It is with this sense of ease and freshness that our minds begin to settle and become calmer and steadier. There is less tension, fear, and anxiety. As we relax into understanding ourselves, we relate to our cognitive and affective experiences with greater equanimity regardless of their content.

See for yourself. See within yourself…

As best you can, make the time to practice and cultivate your capacity to experience and live mindfully. Don’t take my word for it. What I say or write is just words. You need to experience mindfulness directly for yourself. How and what you intend to experience either internally or externally is truly up to you…

The Workings of Mind

by meditative - April 10th, 2016

Our conscious mental activity is a flowing and energetic process of sensory perception, cognition, and emotion. A great deal of our sensory information is often missed as it arises and passes so quickly within the awareness of a busy and preoccupied mind. Much of our sensory data is also perceived as an abstract or mental representation. The thinking or conceptual mind generalizes our situations- and often disconnects the observer from having an authentic, direct experience. Almost instantaneously, we see, hear, smell, taste, or touch- and then “label”. From this conceptual representation, we generate one label after another- and from these “labels” there arises an affective or emotional reaction to the thinking mind’s creation… to streams of habitual feelings of like or dislike, etc. It is here where the emotional mind drives our impulse for action- “to move” toward, away from, or to simply be disinterested. Within this cycle, there often appears to be a continuous, self-perpetuating, and repetitive stream of thought… “label”… and emotion. Conditioned and habitual, our perception routinely ends up distant from the actuality of the direct experience.

Our everyday mind is predominantly regulating and processing from a conceptual and emotional perspective- what psychologists typically refer to as “top-down” processing. Its integrated counterpart- “bottom-up”– our sensory and intuitive processing are often veiled in awareness by a neural network that is charged and activated by constant thought and emotion. When our affective (i.e. emotional) states are agitated or afflictive, we become even more distant and obscured from our direct experience… the “mind maze” becomes one obscure turn after another clouding our awareness and cycling our attention with habitual narrative and mental chatter.

Exhaustion with this cyclical process can often motivate our intent for inquiry into the conceptual nature of our labeling. We then ask ourselves how often do our labels truly represent our reality- and how often do they misrepresent it? How often do we get caught up in all the concept and emotion spun by our mind-made realities?  What are we bound to- and what may liberate us? Can we truly be mindful stewards and work with our own minds- with our awareness and attention to be open to honestly knowing the source of our confusion and ignorance?

Knowing how our mind works- the habitual cycles of thought and emotion- is key to opening our Way to liberation. In a mindful Way of being, we can become free to clearly see how our unwholesome patterns entangle us and limit our natural capacity for expansiveness, freshness, and direct connectedness to our experiences. Through refinement of this awareness and our capacity to clearly see the workings of the mind- we set the stage for the mind to free itself… to use free yet focused attention and open awareness to penetrate the exhausting cycles of mind that obscure our sentience and intuition from balancing and regulating our thought and emotion. It is here that we may discover the power of our own awareness and its capacity to directly change our lives by transforming our owm states of mind.

Working with Emotions…

by meditative - April 5th, 2016

In our formal meditation practice- as we sit in our ‘breathing space’, feeling the breath, feeling sensations in the body, we can be aware of different emotions as they arise in our direct observing experience. There might be the feeling of happiness or sadness; there might be the feeling of joy or anger. We might feel quite light or buoyant. We might feel heavy or despairing.

Whatever the emotional state, it can be opened into, noticed, acknowledged, and let go. The practice is to be aware of any arising emotional states without identifying with them- not taking them to be “I” or “self” or “mine”, but seeing them simply as a stream of experience arising out of conditions. With our own inner capacity for mindsight- this free attention & open awareness- we may see them lasting for some time, changing, disappearing in the form of sensations in the body; or particular thoughts or images associated with the emotion; or as a certain texture or coloration of the mind. Each emotion has its own particular ‘flavor’, the flavor of sadness or happiness or joy or love or anger. Our intention here is to openly and curiously explore all of these aspects to be this way or that way- to react this way or that way.

In working with emotion in our practice, it’s important to first recognize what it is. Here, it can be very helpful to use mental noting to bring forth clear recognition, this is happiness, this is sadness, this is loneliness, this is excitement, this is interest, this is boredom, etc. Clear recognition can be very helpful. If other thoughts arise and associate with this naming process, simply practice again and again to the simple ‘naming’ of them.

When an emotion arises strongly in our experience, it’s useful to notice the different aspects of it. Feel the specific sensations in the body as best you can. Is there heat? Is the body contracted? Is it open? Is it soft? Notice whether there are particular images or thoughts associated with the emotion, and notice the ‘mind flavor’ of the particular feeling. As best we can, it becomes deeply meaningful and revealing to try and open to the subtleties in the mind and body as each of these feelings arises.

At times we may not be able to clearly recognize what the emotion is. No need to agonize over the absence of revelation, we can simply open to the feeling with the general note of ‘feeling’ or ’emotion’ until what it is becomes clearer.

Once we recognize and acknowledge then we need to accept, if possible. Here, there is often a tendency to resist or deny certain emotions, particularly if they’re unpleasant. There are certain emotions that we don’t like to feel. These can be different for each of us. In our practice, it’s important to recognize what’s arising and be accepting of whatever it is. It is acceptance that conditions our capacity for non-identification with our emotional states, and this contemplative practice of repeatedly seeing & letting be… seeing & letting go. These states are simply phenomena of mind- arising out of conditions and then passing away. They are non-personal with no one behind the emotion to whom it is happening.

Working with our feeling states is a real effort early in our practice. We are habitually conditioned to personalize and identify with our emotions. Quite often, we become so enmeshed in their presence that we cannot discern ourselves to be anything more. Mind training and cultivating our own mindsight of open awareness and free attention to see things clearly- as they are– has real power to transform us- and to liberate us from the avoidance or attachment we often experience with our emotions.

Working with Thoughts…

by meditative - March 31st, 2016

Are we aware of the karmic impact of our thought patterns?

Thoughts simply arise in our consciousness- sometimes they manifest with intention and on many occasions they stream into awareness out of the reactionary impulse of our automaticity– to be continually ‘charged’ and conditioned by a ‘thinking mind’. Although our meditation practice is not ‘thinking’, it can certainly emerge as clear awareness or ‘awarenessing‘ of thinking. To become aware of our thought process can help us to learn much about its inherent nature; the underlying emotions and unseen feelings that drive the repetitive frequency of our thought process; as well as the capacity to clearly discern the difference between getting caught up in thought from being mindful of it.

To closely watch our thoughts and thought patterns, we can begin to see where we get ‘hooked’. Once seduced by the sirens of thought, we can become enmeshed in identifying, energizing, and following their stream of content. The energy our thoughts hold depends greatly upon how we relate to them as they are inherently ’empty’ unless we energize their content. In awareness, it is both purposeful and meaningful to discern wholesome from unwholesome thoughts in order to know which to truly energize with our attention. In reality, our thoughts have the potential for karmic impact- to lead us into actions that have all sorts of consequences. The real significance in our practice with thoughts is choosing what to act on and which to simply let be & let go.

It takes genuine discipline to stay with our thoughts- a relaxed alertness and refined, abiding attention to observe their subtlety and ‘slippery’ nature to stream into our consciousness one after another. As the mind quiets with our evolving practice, the torrent of rushing thought begins to slow and our observing ability to freely attend (i.e. ‘mindsight’) grows clearer, stronger, and more reflexive onto itself. Consequently, there becomes less identification with our thoughts as well as fewer unconscious rides.With trained attention, their power to lead us astray can be diffused and transmuted by a refined or higher-ordered form of discerning awareness energized to simply witness our thought process as it is. Without indulging- and in the absence of identification with our thoughts, they remain ’empty’.

The conditioned forces behind our repetitive thoughts need to be greeted with curiosity, openness, and kindness. Becoming more sensitive to our thought process, and by paying careful attention, the unseen feelings often driving our patterns of cognition reveal themselves. Mindful insight continues to follow from a transformed quality of attention- a ‘clear seeing’ of the thoughts that shape and move our states of mind- and our states of being and doing. Mind training and cultivating a ‘mindsight’ of open awareness and free attention to see things clearly- as they are– has real power to transform us, and to liberate us from the streams of thought that often enslave us and lead us down unwholesome paths.

A Reflection in Stewardship

by meditative - March 30th, 2016

“The Guesthouse”~ Jelaluddin Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
 
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
 
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
 
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Everyday Mindfulness & Beyond…

by meditative - March 21st, 2016

What may seem so ordinary has extraordinary power to change the way we ‘see’ & live.

Mindfulness can offer us a wholesome Way of being awareand with practice, a refined way of ‘seeing’ and relating to our ordinary, everyday experiences. When intended as a Way of being with our daily activities, it offers us a gateway toward a more vital mode of living. By ‘carefully paying attention’ in the present moment, we improve our capacity to regulate emotion; manage emotional dysfunction; improve patterns of thinking; and reduce negative mindsets, etc.

As a form of self-awareness, mindfulness practice can disentangle us from our conditioned (routinized) ways of perceiving and thinking. We can explore and examine our everyday experiences with a ‘freshness’ of perspective- open-minded and contextually sensitive to see things in a new, more expansive way. In the here and now, with everything we see, sense, and perceive to be in constant flux, we accept a form of ‘conditional learning’ that transcends what we experience as  ‘absolutes’- being aware of what’s happening as it is happening in a curious, open-hearted, and non-judgmental way- intentionally and on purpose.

Through routine practice of being mindful in our daily lives both formally and informally, a refined state of ‘discerning awareness’ can manifest to where the observer experiences a form of disidentification from the activity of his/her own mind… simply noticing waves of thoughts, feelings, images, and sensations as they naturally arise and fall in consciousness. This process of disidentification is both radical and liberating to the Western mindset. It is this disentanglement with the mind and the mind-body process… this discerning awareness that may be the most operant mechanism of the mindfulness practice responsible for ameliorating human suffering. It is also this discerning awareness that helps us to move beyond the automaticity of our mental habits and conditioning through routine attention training and the skillfulness of a refined ‘mindsight or ‘witness consciousness’.

Cultivating a refined form of meta-awareness (i.e. awareness of awareness) is a direct outcome of our fortitude to practice routinely in the face of our life’s challenges, difficulties, and adversities. It is embracing both pleasant and unpleasant experiences with equanimity- with balanced temperament.  It flourishes from our focused intention, attention, objectivity, and care to discern what may be deeply wholesome in fostering health and well-being not only in our own lives but also in the lives of others. Compassion and empathy flow from this truly purposeful and meaningful process, and expands not only a deep sense of self-care, but also an altruistic level of care for others.

Mindful awareness is a seed for everyday change and transformation.. moment-to-moment… person-to-person. What may seem to be very ordinary may have extraordinary consequences in the transformational power underlying this truly revelational practice.

Abiding with Equanimity…

by meditative - March 16th, 2016

Equanimity’ is another one of those sublime virtues in our practice. It is the ground for wisdom and freedom, and often regarded as the protector of compassion, love, and tenderness. While some may think of equanimity as dry neutrality or cool aloofness, in its mature form, it produces a natural radiance and warmth of being.

The practice of equanimity opens our hearts to curiously invite and welcome all that lies before us without judgment or attachment… receiving, accepting, and befriending the whole of our experiences. As we carefully abide with equanimity, we foster an attitude and orientation not only supporting ourselves, but the interconnected nature of our own being with other beings- for you… and you… and you… and so on are ‘just like me’. We share the same seeds with others in our aspirations for living to be happy, and to be free or liberated from our suffering.

Our common ground may be difficult to see, but its sense can be felt in the heart of one who is open to curiously embrace the mystery of what is shared. Think of all that would truly flourish if it were similarly nourished with compassionate warmth, generosity, and kindness. It is this heart-felt curiosity of equanimity that opens and expands our spectrum of possibilities. We are all capable of giving and receiving this quality of heart.

Even in the face of difficult situations, and with people who don’t necessarily share our views- we cannot expect to soften to them unless we are willingly open to embrace them. The practice of equanimity helps us to let go of our familiar habits of preferring some experiences and people, and pushing away others. We come to see the whole of people and situations. The care and tenderness we cultivate for ourselves we bring to others. Through our practice of equanimity, we begin to stabilize our temperament and disposition of mind as our sense of being and ‘interbeing’ is softened with a heart-felt sense of calmness and gentleness.

The more we abide with equanimity, the stronger we become at ‘center’. The emotional waves that typically carry us from center to the fringes of our being seem less intense and shorter in duration with time. When the heart is filled and the center is strong, we are able to remain composed even in the face of adversity- ‘here’ we ride the mind’s waves of disturbances coming back ‘home’ to the place where we stand abiding with equanimity.

Leaning Into Our Fear

by meditative - March 10th, 2016

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” ~ Franklin Delano Roosevelt

The limitations of self-imposed emotional barriers are often not just the feelings themselves. They are often compounded by our feeling about our feelings. For example, our fear of fear. The path of fearlessness can only be walked by those who know the nature of fear- openly and directly. It is our knowing that transforms our ignorance to wisdom. In general, our tendency is to be afraid of feeling fear. In our mindfulness training, we practice leaning and moving toward fear not away from it. We knowingly befriend our fear so that it may open up to us and reveal its nature.

For many of us, we are addicted to protecting the ‘me, myself, and I’. Out of this addictive quality to protect all of oneself lies a strong undercurrent of fear. When we get in touch with that addictive quality, we’re beginning to connect with what we fear so greatly, and that which we are afraid to feel.

The practice of leaning into our direct experience of powerful emotions like fear expresses the clear intention of our focused attention to reflect on the impersonal nature of our own fear. Leaning into our direct experience helps us to cut through/penetrate and differentiate mental chatter versus the real emotional core of our feeling state- to lean and stay with it, over and over again– until the emotional barrier dissolves. By leaning in with a quality of awareness that is curious & caring, we see more and feel more without the filters or running commentary of our habitual storylines. Typically, these storylines are full of abstract explanations and considerations projected to help tame the fearful emotion by moving us away from directly feeling it.

Through direct experience and this befriending quality of awareness, we may come to know the nature of fear, and it is through this direct attending and abiding process where we can begin to transform our relationship to the varied disturbances (i.e. mental & physical) created by our fear. Directly, inclusively, and intimately we face the core of our fear and the vein of our misplaced fears.

Courage, Curiosity & A Sense of Humor

by meditative - March 9th, 2016

When we can smile at our adversity shows the bravery in our curiosity.

The enemies we battle and the wars we wage are often not outside ourselves, but the reactionary ‘forces’ of our habitual tendencies and negative (perpetuating) emotions within ourselves. The most significant is our fear. By facing & befriending our fear, we embrace and adopt an outlook of courage- we transform our impulse to say “no” to our adversity and “yes” with curiosity to experience the full spectrum of our lives.

Courage is the fundamental openness to face even our hardest truths- as painful as they may be. For example, old age, sickness, loss, death, etc. Aging is a natural process of impermanence. Everything is impermanent and comes to an end. Sickness is an integral part of having a body. How we accept and ultimately relate to our experience is a sign of our courage- and sustaining open curiosity to the mystery of our often unpredictable being only strengthens it. Inevitably, the journey of our passing must be alone- it is part of our life. The more we cling on to our illusion of permanence only makes our parting more painful. The beauty of our journey is embracing each moment for what is- and accepting the transition into the unknown- for we cannot look into what we can neither see nor comprehend.

Although inevitable as it is hard-wired into our nervous system for survival, the essence of our existence is not to be ruled by our “fear”, but to live fully and courageously with it- befriending & working with it. Fear can be our ally and our teacher to face & embrace the unknown as we begin to better understand the nature of how it surfaces, sustains, and passes within ourselves.

In all our bravery and curiosity to see and face things directly, we also need to come to know that ultimately some things don’t make sense- the running commentary (i.e. storyline) of our lives is really a product of our mind, and it can wander rather far from the truth of our direct experience. The incongruence or disharmony with “self” and environment can be continuously annoying, uncomfortable, and painful when there is too much seriousness placed on the experience of living. To manifest genuine harmony, peace, and joy, we need to learn to penetrate and ‘strip down’ our seriousness, with a sense of humor- and like fear, it too can be our ally. Similar to courage and curiosity it is a heart-felt quality- a smile, a “lightness”, or “warmth of spirit” that illuminates our vision and perspective. Waking from our seriousness can help to liberate our minds and bodies from the additional stressors brought on by getting too caught up in the ‘gravity’ of our own experiences. Having a sense of humor is the seed to sustaining a positive outlook despite our present-moment situations. It helps us to see the relative lightness and freshness of things as they truly are. As best we can, we must try not to take ourselves, our emotions, or our lives too seriously.

When we can genuinely smile or laugh at ourselves from our heart… even difficult situations can open us up to a better ‘place’. Smile and let your experience arise without fear… with courage, curiosity, and a sense of humor.

Faith and Letting Go…

by meditative - March 7th, 2016

Fixated hope is ultimately tied to fear. Our freedom lies in our faith to let go.

Have you ever felt that moment of utter helplessness- falling endlessly out of control- when the situation you’ve relied on seems to be coming apart? Our perceived loss of control over ‘what is’, whether it be external or internal, typically evokes the same response of “fear”, and as this strong emotion dominates the whole of our being, our sense of possibility appears to collapse- our vision becomes restricted- and our ‘life force’ arrested.

When hope and fear are bound together, there arises this ‘fixated hope’ that moves us to seek out relief from our suffering in getting what we want- in the precise way we want it. We hope for a particular outcome to arise, and we invariably fear that it won’t happen. Therefore, we shift from hope to fear to hope to fear in an endless loop.

Change and uncertainty are out of our control. How a situation will ultimately turn out cannot always be manipulated to yield the desired outcome. Our sense of faith allows us to relax into this vast space of not knowing- and to the ultimate truth lying outside of our assumptions. Underlying our faith, we see once again, the need to open to our capacity to accept, release, and let go- to allow the moment to arise as it needs to be not what we want it to be. Despite our fear, it is our faith and trust that gives us intimacy with the truth, because we accept the underlying uncertainty of the moment. Here we remain engaged with the realization that we are not fully in control- things will unfold as they are naturally inclined to do.

As we have already seen with a sense of courage, we are to be full of heart if our faith is to avail and we are to move forward in the face of uncertainty openly acknowledging what we cannot control. This does not mean that we don’t make full effort in our endeavors, but that we aspire guided by a more balanced and holistic view of life. In the face of powerlessness, our force of habit often exacerbates our fear as we resist what is unfolding. At our edge or our outer limits, we find faith. Feelings of fear and powerlessness are inevitable arisings on our journey, but they need not break our spirit.

Our inner measure of fear diminishes in power and intensity over our state of mind and state of being as we gain understanding and bolster our support for the unknown. We still may be falling, but our understanding and capacity for letting go becomes the insight and the faith to fall into the cradle of our openness. It is through this fearless openness that we become intimate with the immensity and mystery of life itself.

Insight Underlying Stress Function

by meditative - February 26th, 2016

The practice of mindfulness meditation can open our inner capacity of awareness, and the wisdom of our own true nature to remain focused, peaceful, and abiding with the stress and distress we experience in our lives. Our routine discipline of attending- taming, stabilizing, and recalibrating the habitually reactive nature of our minds has prepared us to begin to work with the insight for seeing clearly and for listening closely- to shine the light onto things as they are, and to diffuse our fear, stress, and suffering by realizing the highly conditioned ‘workings’ of our own minds.

When we can openly & compassionately abide our stressful situations, they become more benign- more ordinary and transparent. In the process, we also begin to see the impersonal nature of our personal problems, difficulties, and afflictions. They are simply experiences arising and subsiding in the field of our awareness. Both wakefulness and confusion emerge from the same ground, it just depends upon where we are ‘standing’ or ‘minding’ in the midst of the arising. Ultimately, our vulnerability is conditioned by our state of mind.

As we have previously discussed, stressful situations can stimulate significant amounts of energy and effect in the mind and body. Stress reaction is due to conditioning and habituation. As we begin to examine the reactionary process in our awareness, we start to diffuse the energy of its reactionary force (cause) and outcome (effect) simply through the realization that cause and effect are just states of mind- non-separate arisings in awareness. The direct, intuitive experience of our practice teaches us this- to focus energy that habitually wants to scatter and fragment our being… it’s that simple.

As an arising in our awareness, we notice- we acknowledge- we accept (if possible)- we let go and move on. We own our states of mind. There is no judgment or blame for our stress or our stressful situations. Its operation is simply part of the mental processing for our experiences. The only barrier between you and understanding your stress is you. We create it- and we have to take direct responsibility for it, otherwise we will never get to the root of its occurrence. We hold onto our stress because we cannot release a part of our “self” (e.g. beliefs, positions, etc.) in the process. With time and practice, we build confidence as we trust our capacity to let go of what’s simply running inside of our heads- and consequently we experience less stress and distress from sustaining this realization.

Coming to Our Senses- Turning Inside

by meditative - February 16th, 2016

Turning inward not away brings freedom to the courageously inspired.

If we are willing to see the ‘whole’ of our lives as practice, our awareness of the moments when we are not present, coupled with our intention to awaken, brings us into the present. From here we stand on the solid ground of our own experience- looking deeply into how we live and learning to care for ourselves while being truly alive to our living.

The slow yet deliberate movement into the interiority of our lives with a quiet mind and an open heart allows us to feel deeply and act wisely. What we call ‘mindful intelligence’ is not acquired, it is something universal to us all- already preserved within us … quiet, steady, open, curious, and ready to experience… this is our inheritance. When opening up to this natural intelligence, we can innately know our boundaries of selfishness and selflessness- we can know where we stand for ‘I’, ‘me’, and ‘mine’, as well as for others. Awakening, we come to realize our deliberate and careful attention is the foundation for healing relationships with both one’s self and with others. Coming to our senses and to our mindful intelligence we adopt a disciplined way of understanding the nature of mind and its effect in human interactions- the ‘felt’ sense of separation and connection.

Living and passing through life detached from our interiority only reinforces our entrapments in habits, assumptions, and long-held perceptions. Turning away from our direct experiences we cannot see our lives the way they truly are. To liberate one’s self from a relatively fixed (‘solidified’) and rigid existence- externally driven and internally reactive- one needs to loosen his/her grasp on forces of habit that are deeply entrenched in one’s being. Facing this revelation is not easy or comfortable- it is the price of wakefulness- the courageous spirit to break one’s conventional mode of existence outside of one’s true nature.

As we know it, we have but only this one life to live. Do we have the capacity- the will- the determination- and the devotion to take it back? Life renewed is not an easy road to follow. To honestly examine one’s ‘self’- to look deeply into the mirror and accept unconditionally the reflection back is no easy undertaking. The effort and the potential consequences of this ‘Way’ are indeed profound as mindfulness is a very powerful medium for realization, transformation, and healing. It is this wisdom- the ‘felt’ or ‘sensed’ intelligence of sentient beings living and experiencing directly and intimately with what occurs before them.

Our kinship to one’s self- to others- and to life itself is an open and direct relationship. It requires heart-felt trust to endure and stay connected to things as they are so that they may speak the ‘truth’ about what is happening and what needs to happen when one is ready to act with all their awakened and attuned senses. We must come to our senses if we are to fully engage in life without the fears or fixations so commonly entrained in our habits, assumptions, and long-held perceptions. To awaken renewed, we must come to reckon with all aspects of ‘self’… in darkness, in shadow, and in light.

Coming to our senses is awakening to our inheritance… to our whole-being, embodied awareness.