Monday, April 29, 2013

Mindfulness, Right View, and Letting Go

When the mind is calm enough, and the heart opens, insight can arise. 

This morning, sitting, I could clearly 'see' that practice is very simple. To sit with the intention of putting  awareness on the breath. Then sitting back and watching what happens. First in the body. Where is the tightness that prevents the free flow of breath in and out? And what comes along with it? Getting in touch with the heart stirrings, the hindrances in the mind. This morning was sadness, and longing, laced with a bit of fear and tiredness. And thoughts, mostly about 'me' in different roles, past and future. 

Remembering the intention of mindfulness, and that breath is where the truth lies. Everything else, a product of disturbed mind. Sitting, I could feel the repeated pain from each automatic thought coming at the forefront. Each one a variation on clinging, and the product from deep seated illusion about the solidity of self. 

Each time sitting like this, the mind gets a bit wiser, a bit less attached to itself. There is no way around practice. One needs to put in the time. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Be Mindful, Be Playful

This morning, sitting on my favorite chair, doing nothing, I found the mind playing catch with itself. Having fun with each new thought. First noticing, then seizing, then releasing the thought. Until the next one, and the next one, and the next one . . . Mind at ease with itself. Welcoming each manifestation with gentle curiosity.

Mingyur Rinpoche examplifies and talks best about playful mindfulness:

Playful mind. Not tense. Not lazy.

The mind can play with any object. Thoughts, yes, but also breath, body sensations, emotions, sounds . . . Because of the law of impermanence, one thing we can be assured of is that each moment is a new moment, entirely different from the previous one. Each moment, a complete surprise.

I am curious. Aren't you?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Loving Kindness Contemplation With iPhone

I had some time in between meetings, and decided to call friends I had not talked to in a while. Going down the contacts list on my iPhone, I noticed the mind passing judgment on each name.

The one at the top had fallen into the mere acquaintances category. Heart tightened a bit.
Next one, a resounding no. She had hurt me once, and I still remembered the sting. Stomach and throat closed tight. The person in question no longer deserved to be on the list, 'my' list. 
Oh, yes, that one. A good friend, and someone I am contemplating doing good work with. I felt heart open, and body relax.
Further down, someone who would always be part of my life. A complicated story, and some ambivalence, but mind was fair and could see things as they are.
And right below, the urge to call her, who is always there for me. Heart overcome with gladness, it felt good. 
At the letter D, heart ached from love not returned, and the craving for shared sweetness that could not be, at least not now. 
Each letter, surprises in store, some first names I was not even sure whom they belonged to, and why I had once deemed them important enough to become 'contact'. 
. . . 

Soon, it became clear, I had to keep going down the list, and use each name as a way to test the state of my heart. What I found was no big surprise, but a confirmation of what I already knew. It takes a lot of sustained mindfulness to dismantle the mind's habit of finding reasons to not love. Noticing the damage done first and foremost to oneself when unloving thoughts arise. And not kidding oneself about one's ability to love. 

Most helpful has been Ayya Khema's talk on metta, the most convincing teaching I have heard on love.
Ayya Khema reminds us to make loving kindness a part of our daily practice. Both mind and heart need to be re-trained. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Mind Musings on Mind

In the midst of spinning, it struck me, the awesomeness of this body, and of the mind that animates it. Instructor asking us to sit. Body sits down. Stand. Body stands. Pedal fast. Legs pick up the tempo . . . Every moment, a miracle of connections made in the service of 'I', starting with the mind's perception of sensory input, followed by a cascade of linkages within the brain, resulting in just the right kind of action for this moment. 

Being with my mom after her stroke, made me realize how dependent we are on our full-functioning brain. Most of us are so spoiled. We take it for granted that, of course, we can walk. Of course, we can speak. Of course, we can swallow. Of course, we can remember. Of course, we can understand . . . Meanwhile not realizing, our attachment to this body, and to this mind as we know it. 

Typing this post, I stop to notice what happens when the mind thinks up a word, and seemingly instantly, the correct finger finds its way to the right key. The mind is a beautiful thing, in its purest state. Our challenge is to notice the taints that keep on clouding our consciousness, the hindrances that keep on rising in the forms of troublesome thoughts. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Lesson in Living, From the Dying

Back from visiting my mother, I have been met by a flurry of good news on the work front. Many seeds planted a while ago, are now sprouting all at once. Success is sweet, on the surface . . . Not far below, the pain of clinging has been tugging at my throat. For the overachiever that I am, it is hard not getting attached to accomplishments. 

Most effective antidote has been the remembrance of my last moments with my mom. Ever since I left her last week, I have been holding the image of her lying in her bed, almost floating, with only a touch of breath, here and there. A picture of complete letting go, and the opposite of what happens when the mind lets self-habits take over. 

Going about my day, I carry my mom in my heart. And I am grateful for the gift of her unwitting teaching.