Mindfulness and Meditation – Part II

Posted: May 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

This is part 2 of Chapter 4 from the draft manuscript of my book ‘Just Be’.

As you continue to focus on the breath, notice what is happening around you; not just the breath itself. Become aware of the greater harmony of which you and your breath are a part. If you are sitting outside, notice the sensation of the sun warming you, the wind caressing your skin, the sounds that surround you, the presence of smells, all of it. Continue to use the breath as your anchor to keep yourself grounded in the present moment, but allow the present moment to include you and everything around you, the entire content of your experience. Let go of words, concepts and ideas; setting aside your desire to label everything – to name your experiences. Instead, just be with them. Be the experience itself. If you hear a car horn in the background, notice the sound as just a sound, not the sound of a car horn. You do not know what the sound was – it was just a sound – let go of what you think it was. Be the sound.

Words, concepts, and ideas are the province of the thinking mind, the intellect, the ego. Using them strengthens the ego – using them becomes the experience. We want the experience to be the experience, not the description of it. When we think to ourselves ‘this is’ or ‘that is’, the things we think become the content of our minds. Things only become things when we think of them as things. If you look at a crowd of people and you see a crowd of people, you may get lost in your personal perceptions of what a crowd of people means. If instead, you look at the crowd of people as a harmony of motion, not as people, but as an assembly of lights dancing in the darkness, then it becomes that harmony, that dance. And if you just experience the harmony instead of trying to label it, you see it more clearly. You become one with it – you are the observer experiencing the observation. You are the harmony.

If you find yourself thinking – return your attention to the breath. Continue to use the breath as your anchor, as gravity, and always remember to be loving and kind to yourself whenever you notice that your observation has shifted away from the breath. It is easy to notice that your attention keeps wandering back into the thinking mind, over and over again. In doing so you may become frustrated – perhaps thinking that you are not a good meditator, or that you are not able to recreate some previous meditative state, or reach a certain number of breaths that you’ve identified as a point of ‘progress’ for yourself. First of all, recognize that all of these represent narratives – let them go. Just bring yourself back into the present moment by concentrating on the breath. Let go of your thinking mind and your thoughts about thinking, gently. Be patient, it takes time to cultivate true mindfulness – it takes practice.

There is another level of absorption within the meditative practice – a level of absorption that leads to insight. Insight is realization. Insight is seeing clearly the truth of all things as they are. It is achieved at a certain point on your journey when you have cleared away enough of the ego to make way for your soul to speak with you. Or rather, you are parting the clouds enough to let the sun shine through. This is the nature of the awakening experience, the subtle shift from an egoic state of consciousness to one where you hear your soul singing to you for the first time, as part of your direct observational experience. It differs for some people, but however this shift manifests, the essence of the experience is the same – you are waking up to who you truly are at the core of your beingness – as a being of infinite love. Sometimes insight comes with the awakening, sometimes it comes before, sometimes it comes after – and then it just deepens.

The key to achieving insight, at least within the methods being shared here, is to learn to breath into the heart as part of your meditative experience – and to continue doing so mindfully at all times. Many of us carry a tightness in our chest, just below the sternum. It is the place we think of as our heart space, although this is not entirely accurate. It’s close enough from a spiritual perspective though. It is the center of our beingness and it is in the same general area as the heart. The heart is really the key to achieving insight. We must clear the mind and open the heart. Some of the other chapters in this book must be practiced together in order to truly clear the mind, but in order to open the heart, we must learn to breathe into it, to draw in the ‘heart-breath’. We can practice this in a meditative state, but it becomes more powerful as a mindfulness practice – in fact, it is the most powerful tool we have as human beings.

Breathing into the heart, and achieving varying levels of insight is, of course, a wonderful thing. But the nature of the experience goes deeper than that. When we learn to breathe into the heart, and we’ve done the work necessary to clear the mind, we actually begin to commune with our own soul. This is the secret of true meditation – attunement of the mind and soul; learning to listen to the intuitive nature of your own beingness, to learn discernment, to hear God speaking within you. God does not speak to your mind; God speaks to your heart, through your soul. As you see this more clearly, as you practice and experience the truth of it for yourself, you will realize that this place, this center, becomes your refuge from the world. It is the place from which you can draw wisdom and strength. And you can take this wisdom and strength with you wherever you are, tapping into it whenever you need, by breathing the heart breath.

This takes us back into the realm of mindfulness and practicing moment by moment awareness of our experience, as the observer of our experience, absent the narration. You can breathe the heart breath when doing dishes, when working out, when speaking to someone. It becomes one of many tools in your mindfulness toolkit. There are many other ways to ground yourself in the moment though – and indeed, it is keeping yourself grounded in the moment, by experiencing your experience, that is the essence of mindfulness. When you eat, know that you are eating and be with the experience of eating – the taste, the texture, the sensation of moving the jaw, the act of swallowing, all of it. When you are walking, you can slow down and focus on the sensation of walking – the feel of the knee rising, the ankle bending, the foot landing, etc. Brushing your teeth, turning on your car – all of it – everything – be mindful in all things.

You can also think as mindfulness and meditation as a form of prayer, because it is indeed an act of worship. Mindfulness and meditation are the essence of becoming one with the moment, which allows you to become one with all things, which allows you to immerse yourself in the essence of God’s presence. It does not matter if you call God by a different name, or even if you just see it as being present within the harmony of the universe itself – it’s all the same thing – being one. The more you practice, the easier it becomes. The easier it becomes, the more you see. The more you see, the more you want to practice. That there is something beyond us at work becomes undeniable. That it is infinite love becomes indisputable. We deepen and deepen and deepen into our experience, until we become the harmony, from one moment to the next, as the observer of our own experience, absent the narration of the thinking mind.

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