Monthly Archives: November 2015

Inner peace: the best companion

inner peace is bestThe path of mindfulness meditation leads to a deep appreciation of life, a real joy that rises from just being what you are, where you are. But on that journey there are difficulties, and it’s useful to recognize that this will happen and accept it in advance. It’s not all heavenly light and bliss! A lot of the practical work of mindfulness is sometimes painful, sometimes boring, but it’s all worth it because the payoff is huge. It’s a simple observation that I have found very encouraging when I feel like I’m drowning in a raging sea.

Often the path of mindfulness is about trying to be aware as possible and then simply dealing with what happens next. This is easy when the awareness is one of contentment or self-love, because what happens next is wonderful. But as we increase our awareness we increase our perception of things we have often gone to a great deal of trouble not to think about. The suppressed, the painful, the embarrassing, the feelings that burnt us so badly we swore we’d never feel anything if it meant feeling that again. They all come up; it’s part of become more mindful, more sensitive.

So a sign of deepening awareness is the bad stuff coming up, and if we sit with it then it will be healed. And of course there’s also the bliss, the revelations, the ‘yes’ moments. And then after all that comes the abiding deeper sensitivity to daily life. I’m more grounded, more in my body. I’m less lost in thoughts, more present with what’s going on around me and within me.

That’s the practice. Sit with as deep an awareness as you can muster and let the awareness erode away the confusion. Trust that what’s coming up is being brought into awareness to be released, and hang on. Let mindfulness carry you out of the madness and into the clear light.

Trust mindfulness. In any situation (internal or external) trusting a fresh, vital awareness of what you are feeling, sensing and thinking will always be of benefit. You will deal with difficulty better, and enjoy things on deeper and deeper levels. Ultimately, you will experience more moments of inner peace.

The experience of inner peace is the best teacher, the best medicine, the best companion for the journey of life.

Mindfulness from the corner of your eye

bloom like flowersThere’s a Great Tibetan Llama whose name escapes me. He said “The delusions are like naughty school boys. If you stare at them they do nothing; but when you turn your back they start to act up.”

It is possible to over exert in meditation and get a bit of tunnel vision. We lose the nuanced detail and become preoccupied with ‘goals’ and ‘beliefs’. These things are useful in their place but when being mindful it’s well to remember there are things in our awareness that don’t have names or forms. Grief, anxiety – they have ambiguity and take time to witness. Trying to quickly shoe-horn these things into a yes-or-no question rarely ends well.

I’ll be talking about this in my Thursday night meditation class, because when we meditate we can become focused in a hard, rigid way, and that defeats the purpose of opening and becoming aware.

Mindfulness often occurs in the corner of the mind’s eye; we spy a shape, we remember a noise, we feel a certain way. It’s indefinite and indeterminate but it’s suggestive and observable. So we sit quietly and let it reveal itself. Like a skillful bird watcher, rather than scaring the birds away by going to look for them he sits quietly and lets the birds present themselves in their own time.

So be careful with your intentions. Be skillful with what you ask of yourself. Deadlines and expectations can create a pressure that destroys the subtler mindfulness. We lose our peripheral vision and can only see the things we already know; we are frustrated before we start.

The Tibetan master knew what he was saying when he compared the delusions to naughty school boys. Delusions are not always terrible monsters. Sometimes they are errant kids who are good at heart, just a little out of control. The old meditation master is firm and kind with his monkey-like school children. In the same way, we are firm and kind with ourselves and our delusions.

It is always good practice to have a warm heart before you do or start anything. This is our powerful act of self love, and it protects us from hurting ourselves and others. Mindfulness practiced with the good heart of kindness always brings us to inner peace. Our awareness is soft, there is no judgement or anger, just a responding to the moment with acceptance and sensitivity.