May 21, 2013


Watching how mindfulness disappears and reappears II

Today I thought I would share a few tips that I have found to be extremely helpful to maintain mindfulness in daily life.

The first is an easy one: as soon as you find yourself experiencing any sense of rushing in your life or any kind of busyness; as soon as you check, you will see/feel that mindfulness has gone. It comes back as soon as you pause and (in my case) drop the awareness into the belly. This is the process: pause, take a breath in, and let it out, feeling the sensations all the while. Now you are present.

When driving: bring your awareness to your hands on the wheel, and your bottom on the seat, and feel these parts—when you do, there you are!

And for me, washing up: if I am making a noise (clinking of cups, dropping spoons, even if onto the right part of the dish rack), then I am reminded that presence has left the room. As soon as gracefulness returns to my movements, presence returns. For me, movement is key: if walking, walk silently—as soon as I hear my footsteps, I know I am moving carelessly. I am reminded of Miyamoto Musahi’s advice in Go Rin No Sho: “Make your combat stance your everyday stance.”

And (returning to the theme of morning mindfulness), last night I fell asleep on Olivia’s couch, in her house (our two houses are separated by about half and inch; just enough to get by one of the absurd regulations regarding building standards that constrain what we can do here in the nation’s capital; I may elaborate on this in another post). So, this morning, I woke a couple times to put more wood on the fire and, once awake properly, decided to make a coffee. To avoid waking her, I went to my place (10m away!) to grind the coffee; there will be a Nobel prize, I am sure, for the inventor of the silent grinder.

On returning, I boiled the kettle (a lovely glass number from Sunbeam; watching the currents form, then the bubbles, then the movements of the bubbles as the temperature rises is entrancing) and spooned the coffee into the AeroPress, stirred, waited, stirred again, and pressed the coffee. Now the interesting part: conveying the still-dripping (only four or five drops, it’s true) to the composting bag: I remind myself that no drops shall touch the floor or cupboards. Why? Olivia has exceptional close vision and sees all losses of awareness, always. So, I pay attention to the little things (all things are composed of many, many, little things, after all) and in so doing, watch what is happening in the mind.

As soon as I see or feel irritation with what’s happening (precisely how did that drop escape my cupping hand???), I know I have lost awareness; I pause, breathe, and immediately it returns.

Putting wood on the fire is another wonderful method of staying awake, and the firebox itself will alert you to losses of awareness by burning you, immediately (only one tiny burn this morning). I am reminded of Rudi’s commentary on this: in the process of waking up, you do not need to go looking for opportunities to test your awakening awareness; what the Universe presents you in every moment will do that, if you pay attention!

Finally in this brief note, Dave has asked me to write a book review of Spiritual Cannibalism, but this is a truly daunting task—it is an exceptional book written by an exceptional man, but his theme is directly relevant to what I am writing about here, so I shall attempts this in the weeks to come.

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