mindfulness course - PRACTICES, day 7 - and beyond!
Conclusion and Continuation
Congratulations on completing Class One of our Mindfulness Course!
This Day 7 marks a transition - from mindfulness as a practice to mindfulness as a way of life.
To make that transition, we're going to simplify things a bit. We spent the past week focusing on various subjects of mindfulness: the breath, the body, thoughts, emotions, simple activities and more complex activities. Toward the end of the week, we cultivated a more free-form awareness: being aware of whatever came up in the moment. We're going to base our mindful way of life on that free-form awareness, and simplify things even more by saying that our way of life is simply dwelling in awareness of this moment.
To dwell in this awareness every day, and as much of each day as possible, will require some reminders. Preferably at the beginning of the day, and through the day as needed, we can renew our vow, to be here now! Starting in mindfulness as we wake up, and continuing through our morning routine, will give us a good start for a day of awareness.
If we notice we've been lost in thought, or have even forgotten all about mindfulness in the midst of a busy time, we can employ the old Zen question, "What is this?" (meaning "What's happening right now?"), to cut through our thoughts and come back to this moment. No matter how long we've been distracted, any moment is a good time to come back to being aware.
Our awareness includes unpleasant thoughts and emotions. And rather than clinging to pleasant experiences or pushing away unpleasant ones, we're just aware of both, and of the clinging and aversion themselves. What really differentiates this mindful way of life is that we're aware of how everything changes, so we're less attached to our preferences.
That doesn't mean we become zombie-like and don't have preferences; it means we're more aware of our preferences, and can choose to act on them, or not; but we lessen our hold on them, and thus become more stable and content.
We'll continue to do formal practice - just sitting there, being aware - as part of this mindful way of life. This practice will help us be more aware in daily life, and strengthen our ability to come back from being lost in thought, let go, and come back to the next moment. Setting aside 20 or 30 mins. for formal practice, practicing when we wake up in the morning, and taking advantage of little breaks during the day, or when we have to wait for something, as opportunities to do short formal practice...
As we continue on this mindful way of life, chances are that we'll notice we're receiving some of the benefits of practice that we mentioned through this class: experiencing life more fully, being less attached to concepts, being more open and loving, gaining insights, etc. And again, rather than looking at these benefits as goals, or standards of comparison as to how we're doing, we'll just welcome them as further encouragement to live a life of mindfulness.
Feel free to review any of this class as you like.
And let's start today: making mindfulness not just a practice, but our way of life!