On Mindfulness

Breathe.

I believe that meditation is oft misunderstood, frequently I’ve heard, “I can’t meditate, I can’t get my mind quiet.” If I had to keep my mind quiet I would never, ever make the time to sit down and just watch my breath. Simply put, meditation is the practice of watching something other than your thoughts. Most teachers recommend variations of watching the breath.

Our teacher, Angie Boissevain, says there is no goal to sitting and meditating, there is no place to go to and no arriving.  The there is only being in this moment and becoming a witness to what is – in present time.  Angie said:  “It really isn’t about seeing or understanding, but about…allowing being. And the secret about being present, of course, is that this is the only time, right now.

The idea of meditation is to focus on the breath, not one’s thoughts. Allowing oneself to watch thoughts pass like clouds in the sky. “look at that one, a thought of worry, a design thought, I am hungry, I am longing for love, sex, money and others…”  There are always thoughts. The mind is like a heat seeking missile always looking for something to focus on to distract from – NOW.

Keep in mind; the mind does not quiet the mind.

Most want to know how to find peace and end suffering, it is said to be a universal quest. In today’s culture it is easy to get waylaid along the path to finding peace and confuse peace with acquisition or distraction. Distractions include: television, Smart phones, friends, food, sex, alcohol and drugs, shopping, porn, video games, and more. Distraction is not the same as peace.  Dogen was one of the early and widely known writer’s called meditation “King Samadhi”, which is just sitting and being, not doing.

Mindfulness is often associated with the sensation of being totally present, of being quiet within. Swimming, introduced me to my one of my early experiences of meditation through action. I tilted my head for air and I exhaled and watched the bubbles rise from under the surface of the pool. One stroke at a time, one breath at a time, just being with the stroke, with the bubbles, in the water.

 

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