It begins with the body. The hands, the feet, and the eyes—the parts of the body that reach the furthest. Draw these in first. Fold your hands gently in your lap. Tuck your feet neatly beneath you like a giraffe sitting down to rest. Then close your eyes. Now let the ears have their say. Let any sounds—birds, clock, refrigerator clunks, cars, your own breathing, simply waft in like the breeze through the window. Smell whatever smells are drifting in the air around you while you’re at it.
So now what?
Mindfulness means a mind full of meaningful things.
That implies space—space to empty and space to fill. Space to let be. Space to expand and space to contract.
So let the thoughts come. Simply let them float in that same open window that the sounds and fragrances are swirling through. Let them in like the scent of honeysuckle from the vine on the fence outside or like the hum of the computer fan.
Most of our troubles come from thinking about and judging the thoughts that come.
So let the curtains of your judgments simply settle or rustle gently. Let them wave over one another—all of those judgments, simply let them judge. Trying to deny them is like trying to stop the curtains from spilling through your hands while you are trying to stop them from moving.
All of the judgments about judgment strain the brain and the body. The judgments about the body, the finances, the car inspection appointment, the grocery list, and soccer practice, the dying uncle in Sandusky, Ohio—let them all come. Befriend them. If you view them as wrong, or as enemies, or as bad, they will grow like the darkest of shadows and eventually fill the space with darkness dotted with many menacing yellow eyes.
Let the mind fill—sense after sense, thought after thought. Let the mind empty–sense after sense, thought after thought. Let the thoughts and sense impressions stream in and out, like your breath. Attach your attention to none of them, or let your attention attach to all of them.
Practicing mindfulness makes us aware of the mind’s comings and goings. And if we can love the awareness without concern over whether or not we are judging, then our practice will be emptied of care and filled with wonder and serenity.
And we can do all of this while walking as well. We do not need to be sitting to be mindful. Try it. Slowly stand. Revel in the sense of balance as you step–little triangle by little triangle–out of the house and into the woods, or into town, or simply across the room to sit closer to the window. Absorb every part of the ground that your feet touch. Absorb what the hands brush or tap as you pass. Absorb what the eyes touch. Resist nothing.
See if you can feel the air passing through your fingers as your hands do their sweet—really, if you think about it—sweet–pendulum dance as you stride. Sure it’s all about balance—the way the arms sway in time with the legs, but it is really all a lovely orchestrated excuse to swoosh air around like a walking bird, and plus it propels you through space, as a fish through water.
You can walk mindfully, knit mindfully, wash the dishes mindfully–even suffer mindfully.
Mindfulness involves loving the body and not resisting it, or pretending it isn’t there. Be hungry, sleepy, awake–full of light.
And fear not, all this liberal-anything-goes-attitude doesn’t have to color the rest of your life. Form rigid boundaries elsewhere if you like to do that sort of thing. Boundaries have their place, just as the unyielding metal rail along the high winding mountain road in Jerome, Arizona has its shepherding, guarding place. Make all of the judgments and rules you want—just take the time to get to know them—intimately know them, like Adam knew Eve. Know that there will be judgments about the judgments. If you get to know them well enough, perhaps you will want to let them go. Perhaps you will stop blaming them for nibbling on the fruits of your meditation. Perhaps you will stop looking for their ultimate cause. Perhaps you will learn to love them for who they are and what they are trying to do.
Whatever you do, I encourage you to keep the windows open. You could shut them, but that would close out the fresh-aired adventures.
This being human is such tender, delicate work. It is also powerful and strong enough to forge the steel of the guard rails along mountain roads.
You may as well surrender into who you are at the core, the quick, the shining center. You might as well let the softest of crimson lights seep into your every cell and thought. You might as well dive into the love of who and what and where and why you are. You might as well. The sun rises and sets with you or without you sitting cross-legged by the window, or walking outside, deep into the woods.
PS: I took the photos in today’s entry whilst up in the Adirondack Mountains.
Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog