Our marvelous mindfulness is a marinating in the juices of the moment.
Seemingly solid things, like squash or zucchini, with fixed boundaries, when placed in a marinate of olive oil, soy sauce, lemon juice, and garlic, and left alone for a while, the liquid slowly permeates. The solids shapes start to slowly lose their fixed outlines.
As we marinate in the juices of the present moment, we let go a little of the urgencies of the self, the agendas of the ego. We dissolve a little around the edges.
Our simple and marvelous mindfulness similarly permeates the boundaries of who and what we feel we really are, and slowly dissolves the socially consented views of separate identities.
Life is simple and straightforward, this moment, hearing the trilling and clucking of the geckos outside my window. Or the hum of the overheard fan and the gentle touch of the current of air it makes on the bald top of my head.
“Every pine and bamboo, pure wind blowing.”
Soen Nakagawa Roshi (1907- 1984)
It is easy to hear the bird singing or the sound of the bus go by on our street. Yet, if the sound is the words of people that we know, or even people that we don’t know, saying things that we agree with or disagree with, all of a sudden we find ourselves caught in a mesh net of agreeing, disagreeing, correcting, being troubled by, reacting.
The inspiring Thai meditation master Ajahn Chah once said:
“When we sit in meditation and hear a sound, we think, ‘Oh, that sound’s bothering me.’ If we see it like this, we suffer. But if we investigate a little deeper, we see that the sound is simply sound. If we understand like this, then there’s nothing more to it. We leave it be. The sound is just sound, why should you go and grab it? You see that actually it was you who went out and disturbed the sound.”
Let’s not dismiss the marvelous transformative power of mindfulness just because it is such a simple process.
Let’s review: you bring your awareness bring your awareness to an “anchor” such as sensations or movement in your body, the breath, or sounds, for example. You bring your mind to rest there.
But, pretty soon, you will notice your mind begin to have other plans. That’s just what happens. This is totally cool. Each time you notice your mind stray from the anchor, you see where it goes and ever so gently bring it back to the anchor of choice.
Lots of folks get bored, or expect stuff to happen, or simply feel this whole enterprise is way to simple for it to be bring about lasting peace and good cheer.
But hold it a second.
Here is an excerpt from a recent piece in Mindful magazine:
5 Ways You’re Strengthening Your Mind When You Practice Meditation:
Each time you focus on or return to the anchor, you are building your concentration
Each time you focus on the anchor, you detach from your thought stream. This is a practice of letting go in the moment, which translates to letting go in the rest of the world.
Each time you notice that the mind is wandering, that is the moment of mindfulness—not a moment of failure.
Each time you are kind to yourself when your mind wanders, instead of criticizing yourself, you are exercising and strengthening your self-compassion for challenging moments in the rest of your daily life.
Each time you notice where the mind is wandering, that is an opportunity for insight into your mind’s habits and patterns—what we might call wisdom or self-understanding.
As we gracefully return to our anchor, we marinate in the present moment.
Over time, the present moment seeps into deeper layers of this porous thing we call self.
We come to appreciate our everyday moments organically, from deep within.
As we soak in the present, everyday life awakens us to the infinite possibilities of the flow we call being.
Epiphanies happen unannounced and spontaneously in the midst of our everyday life.
We get to the place the Zen teacher Roko Shinge Sherry Chayat describes here:
One of my teachers’ teacher, Soen Roshi’s teacher Gempo Yamamoto Roshi, had eye problems and poor eyesight. As his practice he did pilgrimage in Japan going from temple to temple. Once he was at the side of the road, pissing into the side of the road, and at the sight-sound of bubbling urine, he awakened to his true nature in this ordinary activity.
Katina and I are here to support your meditation practice in any way we can, just contact us through the Contact Page on this site. Or if you live in Honolulu, or ever visit, feel free to drop by our free, weekly meditation evenings.