Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > Mindfulness and the Ordinary

 
 

Mindfulness

Awake to the Miracle of the Ordinary

Nov 2, 2022

Saying For Today: Nature is a we. Being mindful is not an individualistic way of life; it is communal, including when you are alone.


Flowing

Flowing

Dahlia... Pinnate, Garden

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens; Boothbay, ME

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Mindful living is seen to be extraordinary due to our having forgotten how to live in an ordinary way. Waking up is, thus, seeing how to live sanely amid the insanity, not the attainment of exotic states of mind or supranormal experiences. Unlike spiritual or emotional trips, walking on the Earth with awareness is truly a miracle. To be where you are, altogether present amid all the shifting weather conditions moving around you, so remaining anchored to the heart, is a gift you give to all beings. There is nothing special about this, and in living this way, the need for something special subsides through the clarity and calm arising from our basic sanity.


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In mindful living, all you do is important to include in an aspiration to live a mindful life. Mindfulness does not mean being too strict or upset by slips in mindfulness. Becoming mindful of not being mindful is mindfulness. You can experience humor at times of loss of mindfulness, and then, you can return to being mindful. Being gentle with yourself is a lesson one learns more about through conscious living.

Mindfulness is being present. Being present means being aware. You are home. You remain, even while you move here and there, at your home address. This is being grounded in the body, and in a particular place and time is being home. There is harmony between self and where and when. So, home is wherever you go, for you are fully there with yourself, not caught in thoughts that take you into the past or future.

You stay awake; you do not live asleep. As the Christian Scripture reads, "Awake you sleeping ones, arise from the place of the dead" and "Be clear-minded and alert" (Ephesians 5.10; I Peter 5.8).

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It is essential to be conscious of the unmindfulness of the world about us. This awareness means knowing you will find little support for living a wakeful life and be presented with many distractions that lead away from living fully now. Distraction is the temptation to leave ourselves, enticed into allurements that never satisfy our deep longings. Cultures create inviting decorations via advertising to attract us to leave ourselves to expend energy, time, and money on something we do not need. We are encouraged to stay in bed, to sleep our lives away, consuming and consuming for others to become richer off our mindless slumber. Mindful living is wise living - it saves us a lot of waste, including wasting our lives.

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Most of us, if not all, live in a culture of aggression. Warring is all about us. This toxicity spreads through traditional and social media. Anger, hate speech, threats of violence, reports of killings, racist and sexist slurs, and attack speech among politicians are widespread. Bloodshed has become accepted entertainment; watching movies or playing online games with persons killing persons is promoted as fun. What can we say about a culture where violence is a norm of entertainment for children?

To live mindfully, which entails gently and compassionately, we cultivate a mindful body and mind. To share peace, we become peace rather than fighting. By nurturing peace in the body, we spread this peace. We provide an antidote to the anti-life toxins in our cultural environment. We are a light of wisdom in the darkness of ignorance.

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We bring mindfulness into our whole lives. Not only are we the better for it, but the world is too. We become like a welcome light - as Jesus said, "Let your light shine so others can see it ..." (Gospel of Matthew 5.16).

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Once I read, "Speed kills." The teacher meant the deadening consequence of living in a constant state of hurry, of business as busyness. He also did not mean physical death - though that might be included - he meant something more. That which we are not present to dies; even if it remains present to us, we are not present to it. The nature of presence is being present.

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Thich Nhat Hanh and Thomas Merton met, and Nhat Hanh said, "Before you can meditate, you must learn how to close the door." Merton shared this with the novices at the monastery. They laughed, knowing how they ran to the chapel, slamming doors behind them to be on time to chant the monastic offices.

*Jim Forest. Eyes of Compassion: Learning from Thich Nhat Hanh.

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Recently, opening a time of spiritual reading, it arose to me... something I had forgotten - stop, breathe, rest before proceeding. Some contemplatives call this centering.

We are like a labyrinth. We return to the center to live from it. Eventually, we realize the center is everywhere, for we are seeing from the center. For most of us, stability in this felt-insight takes many years of disciplined practice.

We can include mindful interludes, not as a disruption of activity, but as a part of it. Mindfully stopping or slowing down can enhance our lives. We act with more clarity and presence. So, do not see meditation as something attached to your life. Meditation is the way to bring presence into all you do, even your sleep. This bringing of presence is mindfulness. Over time, through setting aside time for formal meditation, you see less and less a difference between those times and the rest of your life.

Through mindfulness, or being present, you become more alert, less distracted, calmer, and more respectful. Slamming a door is an act of irreverence, of aggression, and of mindlessness. Doors, like persons, warrant being treated kindly.

Mindfulness is not simply about our well-being; it is about being awake to the preciousness of our life, so how we treat each other. "Each other" means there is no my life apart from the life of plants, minerals, air, sky, rivers, oceans, animals, ... Nature is a we. Being mindful is not an individualistic way of life; it is communal, including when you are alone.


How we close doors says something about us - does it not? What does it say? In what ways can you integrate mindfulness into your daily life? What is meant by the last sentence on mindful living being communal? How would putting such into practice influence our relationships?

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*©Brian K. Wilcox, 2022.

*Use of photography is allowed accompanied by credit given to Brian K. Wilcox and notation of title and place of the photograph.

*Brian's book, An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, can be ordered through major online booksellers or the publisher AuthorHouse.

 

Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > Mindfulness and the Ordinary

©Brian Wilcox 2022