Nurturing our capacity to awaken

THE ACORN KNOWS HOW TO BECOME A TREE

Just as an acorn holds the potential to become an oak tree, we already possess the capacity to awaken. We can even go so far as to acknowledge that the underlying purpose of all experience is to show us this. In a sense, perfect wisdom is woven into the very fabric of our ignorance and confusion.

For millions of years people have engaged in practices to balance and transform their lives and themselves.  We are connected to those that have come before us, those that sought a way to connect to deeper truths, to achieve well-being and harmony. We too, in our own way and from our own cultural contexts, can share in the growing interest to taste and test a transformational discipline as a way out of discontent, suffering and dis-ease.

So where does «Mindfulness» fit in?

Mindfulness comes from the Pali word «sati» and Sanskrit word «smrti» – which means literally, «remembering».

Our effort is to remember to remember – to be aware! 

Through the practice of mindfulness, we continually make ourelves intimate with how we relate to the various states of mind that arise and how we are engaging with the world from moment to moment. This means that you are mindful  of all that arises – not just what you would like to see arise, but non-judgementally, wholeheartedly present to every aspect of your lived experience.

Does this seem easy?

How many times have you heard «think before you act?» How many times has a phrase escaped from our mouth and you just wish you could take it back? How many times do you feel like you are reacting automatically in ways that you would prefer not to? How often do you suffer from tense, contracted muscles and a tense, contracted state of mind? How stuck to we have to get before we take responsibility to do something about it?

The wisdom traditions teach that profound inner stillness is required to stablize oneself in clear seeing and that coming to stillness may take time and steady, systematic practice.

A celebrity yogi teaches: An ounce of practice is worth several tons of theory!

Practice engages us to work with our human nature, releasing the mind from its conditioning and leaning into the moment to moment lived experience of our lives.

There is no way around it: The path of return – a return to our true home, which we eventually come to see was never really lost, involves practice.

The Buddha was a dedicated yogin with a passion and unique gift for meditative absorption and his teaching was primarily designed to show a concrete way out of the maze of spiritually ignorant and therefore sorrowful existence. Like Patanjali’s Yoga, the Yoga of the Buddha is composed of eight distinct «limbs», and is known as the «noble eightfold path». Right mindfulness is one of these eight «limbs».

The technology that the Buddha evolved in order to work with his human nature was the cultivation of «mindfulness»  which required the disinterested, nonjudgmental, moment to moment observation of behaviour, both physical and mental.

With mindful awareness, he simply observed his body – its positions, its movements, its various parts, its sensations and its impermanence; he observed his feelings and emotions, the constant fluctuations of his consciousness and the way his senses, perceptions and thoughts related to the external world.

Mindfulness meditation is not discursive thinking, but a form of yoga that allows for a more vivid, immediate lived understanding of the self and the world.

Jon Kabat Zinn calls this personal tool kit offered by mindfulness, the «universal dharma».

From a certain point of view, practice is simply what is – it’s a personal choice and a genuine lifestyle.

The passion for personal realization involving experimentation with the hidden potential of the human body-mind is in fact a tradition that has existed for thousands of years – and these traditions have always depended on innovation and improvisation.

A Mindful Art of Life today is being willing to follow and forge ahead in this tradition of experimentation, improvisation and innovation.

To start living the Mindful Life: Pause! Deliberately create more stability and balance in this moment…

You can create stability by calming down and taking a few moments to think before you act. As we move through our day, we often are engaged in continuous motion, going from one thing to the next as each comes across our mind or catches the eye.

If you wish to feel more stable and balanced, stop often throughout your day and focus on what you are doing.

 

Change your perspective.

 

Sit quietly and and experience yourself and your thoughts from a calmer level of awareness.

 

Let your emotions also calm.

 

When you change your position and sit down, uncross your legs, and let your spine be supported and tall – notice how your breathing changes.

 

When there is no motion in your body other than your thoughts, you can think in a different way. Quieting your physical body enables your deeper self to connect to an energy source deep within you. Stability comes from an attitude of balance. When things happen to you, your response to them is from your inner balance.

As you create more balance and stabiliy in the moment, you can begin to ask three fundamental questions. 

This is not discursive thinking nor seeking an answer, this is asking a question of oneself and listening deeply : the most fundamental paradox is that of seeking.

  • What do I want?
  • Why do I want it?
  • How do I want to feel?

 

Everyone begins the path as a seeker, and yet the seeker must outgrow the notion that something’s missing – and thus give up seeking – for the path to unfold.

An oak seed does not need to learn how to grow into a majestic oak tree. It is programmed into it. The same is true for each of us. We are innately enlightened. Our job is to remove the obstacles to our full awakening.

 

 

What do I want, and why? And how do I want to feel?
These three questions are an invitation to listen deeply to our deepest, authentic desires. The path is not about desirelessness, it is about the conscious creation of the life.

As Jack Kornfield said during a recent conference organised by l’ADM (Association pour le Développement de la mindfulness),

 

To be mindful is to be present to what is human and mysterious in this intimate, immediate present moment. Mindfulness is being where you are with a kind heart and an open mind.

With a kind and open mind and heart, can we open to the possibility that we can mindfully and intentionally go from seeker to creator of our own experience by asking three not-so-simple questions?

Write down your answers and read them often in the coming weeks, noting mindfully how this makes you feel:

What do I want?

Why do I want it?

How do I want to feel?

 

To learn how to use this in your own life in the AWAKE Coaching® Programme, please Contact Elaine

About The Author

Elaine Rudnicki

Elaine is a Certified Hypnotherapist and Rapid Transformational Therapist, a Yoga Therapist C-IAYT, Certified Life Coach, creator of AWAKE Coaching®, a Yoga and Meditation Teacher and MBSR Instructor.