Thich Nhat Hanh has a book called The Miracle of Mindfulness. It is wonderfully inspiring and a great introduction to how to be a more conscious person. I recommend it highly! It just came in on request from a yoga teacher to our store and having had a few conversations on this topic with people lately, I felt compelled to share my experience with it.
I teach meditation – and practice a certain kind that incorporates an eyes-opened component, so I’ve found that this notion of Mindfulness comes up frequently. It is perplexing to people. The words brings up an air of piety, reverence and, whether or not you want to admit it, effort, work and strain. I know, I know. You can argue with me, but seriously…I’ve seen enough people all mixed up in their head about how much attention they need to pay to EVERYTHING in order to be a mindful person. I’ve noticed that this approach does NOT work. Why? Because it’s impossible NOT to go crazy trying to be aware of everything all at once from the level of the waking state mind. Period.
In a proper meditation practice we find space between us and all that effort. An allowance for what is real right now for us comes forward in Grace. In that allowance, Mindfulness is ours. There is no trying to achieve it. You are not in your head when this happens – there is no internal commentary about the experience. You are out of your own way allowing for life to be lived through you. It involves no trying or strain.
Let me back up a minute…there is a certain kind of effort to return to this experience, but mostly that is in the discipline of coming back to the present moment – of resting right here. We cultivate this through a meditation practice – the kind where all senses turn within and we are left to discover for ourselves the infinite ocean of peaceful, restful, joyful alertness. This bleeds out into our daily life – spills all over into the moments of eyes open experience – that is mindfulness and our natural state. Yes, we can begin to engage this experience and elicit more of it (a kind of effort put into mindfulness) but it comes from an organic unfolding of consciousness.
Another aspect of mindfulness that seems to trip folks up is that as we evolve we tend toward a bleeding heart for others. Sorry to say, but you can not save or fix other people or the planet. You may likely feel inspired to do so. You may continue those same efforts outwardly as you do turn within. None-the-less, it will be far more powerful and effective if you turn these tasks of helping others or to help yourself to become a better, happier, freer, more conscious person over to a power greater than your self. Here you can find innocence and joy again. Mindfulness takes it’s place as your natural state of being. You don’t have to try, strive, and struggle to be “better” or to be “helpful.” You show up with great awareness and experience that you are the consciousness that is for the highest good of all and everything in your life is better for it. Approaching life with an undercurrent that there is “something wrong” – even when we are trying to be helpful is not the high road. You are better off to turn your energies within and allow the spiritual energy transform you so that you can simply be a transmuting force for good. It’s not mindful to try to fix or save people; it’s arrogant.
In a more surrendered experience, you see people, situations and the planetary issues as a part of the divine flow and when someone is reaching out to you, true unconditional love and compassion move you into service. There is no stress around it. There is no breaking it down into pieces that can then be sorted and cleaned up, fixed up, polished and shined one by one. Instead, there is a fullness and a radiance that shines forth just as you rest in your true Self. Now doesn’t that sound a little less overwhelming? It is absolutely the case.
I personally, don’t want to struggle – whether it be to save myself or anyone else. I know what it’s like to do that and I know what it’s like to live a life practicing mindfulness. It’s an old habit to struggle and a welcomed return to innocence to surrender. In order to shift, it requires a commitment and dedication, indeed a certain kind of effort toward changing internal habits, which then effortlessly change external ones. The mind thinks. The body feels. Our senses give our brain information and it then puts this energy into packaged stories related to past experience. It spits them out into our minds as thoughts and into our bodies as feelings – all trying to prepare us for the future. It’s not a problem; it’s how it is. Yet, all the while we are the silent, still observer and we’ve forgotten how to identify with this rather than all that movement.
Our pain comes from the idea that we are separate from that silent witness – which is where all our good, peace, love and joy come from. Pain comes from the belief that we need to do all kinds of things to get those goods. That we must uncover our broken-ness in order to fix ourselves up so we can eventually get-at and finally deserve our peace, love and good. That’s just what the mind says. And it’s NON-sense. An erroneous lie. A misunderstanding. And something to relinquish all belief in.
Ancient texts and teachers seem to be saying we have a lot of work to do in order to wake up and live a life of mindfulness, but it is not so. Resting in the now and letting it be enough is the only practice you ever need. You know this experience – it’s the place where there is no time, space, problem or even a sense of “me” separate from anything. But if that seems to be a struggle for you, find a tool that will take you inward and allow you to discover your own relationship to this silent witness. Find this tool and be committed to it. Give it your everything. Romance it. Depend upon it. And let me know how it goes.
Blessings to you this February as we quickly move toward March. Enjoy these days of darker skies, snowfall, and inertia. You are not ever alone. We are One. Peace- Rodasi