Mindfulness Tips Blog...
“The mind in its natural state can be compared to the sky, covered by layers of cloud which hide its true nature.” ~Kalu Rinpoche
I went away on a Mindfulness retreat at the Insight Meditation Society Retreat Center in Barre, Massachusetts last week. We had two main mediation teachers guiding us and the topic was on Establishing Presence. We were guided on the importance of establishing presence when practicing mindfulness. This makes so much sense, because when we are moving through the world reacting to it as if it is a commodity there for our convenience there is little to no awareness. It's not our fault! It is the result of years of conditioning. Of learning how to survive in this world. It was taught to us by the people around us, who learned it from the people around them and so on. And it isn't that we are all bad or good. It's more like we are asleep to the goodness that is within us. As if we forgot what it was like to be awake and alive. There are many different reasons why the wisdom within us and ability to be compassionate gets covered over. Sometimes it's a result of trauma, habit, addictive patterns, unskillful behaviors and many other causes.
“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh,
So we begin with one breath followed by another. And it's not just breathing because most of us do this with no real effort or even awareness that we are breathing. It is much more about bringing an awake and alert presence to breathing and it's not limited to this. This is a starting point and an important one in the establishment of presence. The breath is usually a stable, safe place to rest our attention. It is also a place where we can venture out and explore sensations, emotions, thoughts. When emotions become overwhelming we come back to the stability of the breath. As we practice our connection to non judgmental awareness becomes stronger and stronger and this helps us to begin to connect with the wisdom that is always available to us. We also connect with the compassionate heart that helps us to stay present when challenging states of mind or emotions arise. And this definitely happened on retreat!
It is a blessing to practice mindfulness in community...
“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
Yes, we can practice meditation alone at home and it's an important part of developing this practice. After all it isn't always possible to practice with others. When the opportunity arises, as it did for me, it is truly a blessing. There we all sat in Noble Silence, not speaking to each other, very much aware of our connection to each other, of taking part in something that is a Noble endeavor and that is where the blessing part comes in.
As we sit in community, there is the knowledge that we are all walking this path together and and that we all suffer and we also all want to be happy. Instead of running away, avoiding or dismissing the moments of frustration, pain or loss, we commit to being there in an open hearted way. This is not an easy task, it is a Noble one. In a sense it is a statement of real love for ourselves and the world. We learn to let go of being in protective/defensive mode and we open to life. Sometimes even as we sit there is judgment arising and we notice it's arising instead of getting caught in it. This is where we begin to free the mind and open the heart. But more than words on a page this is a living practice that brings with it priceless gifts. What I've written here is just a glimpse of the freedom of mind and heart that are gifts of this practice.
I invite you to find out more about this practice. There are many free resources on the internet. Or if you live in Weston, why not join us for our Sunday Mindfulness Meetings. To learn more please visit the Join Our Sangha page.
May you be well....
Cindy Ricardo is a compassionate and experienced Psychotherapist, Gentle Yoga Teacher and Mindfulness Meditation Guide. She facilitates a Dharma/Meditation Circle in Weston and Coral Springs alternatively, 3 times a month at 11am on Sundays. Her focus is on helping others learn about peaceful practices that help cultivate insight, connect with wisdom and awaken the compassionate heart. For more information about her please visit acaringcounselor.com, contact her at 954 793 6442 or email her at wbmindfulness.