An ancient way of living practiced in the modern days. Mindfulness is a psychological term, a philosophy, also called insight meditation and even Vipassana, the Pali word. Pali is the language spoken during the times of Buddha in India. The ancient Buddhist scriptures are written in Pali. Today Sri Lanka is the custodian of these volumes. The Theravada tradition use Pali in their prayers and rituals.
I personally have always believed in being mindful rather than being mindless. Each time I wasn’t mindful or conscious of my step, I did stumble. Even now it happens and I am sure you may concur. When we work on being mindful our life does slow down. I have been accused of being slow all my life. I have always been living in the moment and insightful. I must have done this in many previous lives hence I was born with this nature. I am sure you may resonate to this through your own experience or someone you know of.
This weekend we are attending a mindfulness retreat at our Buddhist temple, the An-Lac Mission. It is being offered by Rev. Yogavacharya Rahula. So what is mindfulness? and what did I learn from this great teacher?
Living in the moment: Our body is always in the present moment. It cannot exist in the past or future. The heart can beat in the present moment, the lungs breathe in the present moment, the nervous system sends signals in the present moment. It cannot happen in the past or the future. So when we watch our breath and connect it with the bodily sensations and the physical vibrations as experienced by the body, our mind will slow down and our awareness expands.
Every action a meditation: Whether we are sitting or standing, getting up or taking a seat, walking or waiting, eating or drinking, we can watch our body as we engage it in the act and be watching our breath. The physical vibrations, the bodily sensations : when we are conscious of them, it slows down our wandering mind and we become mindful.
e.g. tea drinking meditation: we lift our cup to our lips – watch it, the tea flows into our mouth – watch it, our mouth is filled with the flavor, the warmth, watch it, put the cup down and rest your hands in your lap, watch it, swallow the tea, watch it, watch your breath rise your chest, your belly, your exhalation contracts your belly, watch it, lift your hand to your cup watch it… and allow this to continue until your tea is over. This is meditation while enjoying your tea. Something that can help you achieve this, is keeping your gaze lowered and not distracted.
M&M’s Meditation in a minute: Every hour for a minute you can meditate. It does not matter where you are. You do not have to close your eyes. But just watching your breath flow in and out of your body while you are sitting or standing or walking or bending or engaged in any other action you can meditate. Just for a minute. It is a fantastic feeling.
Meditation on a dime: In the loudest of places you can meditate. Allow your mind to go below the noise and distractions and watch your breath and your bodily sensations – this is the best way to deepen your practice and slow down your mind while being aware of all that is going on within you. Of course you must be an advanced practitioner to achieve results, but we have to begin sometime, so why not now, just for a minute. You will love yourself little bit more after your minute of silence in the chaos, I promise you.
OM Namo Buddhaya!
… to be continued