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Entries Tagged as 'stillness'

There’s no wrong way to practice mindfulness

June 24th, 2010 · 3 Comments

There’s no wrong way to practice mindfulness.
It’s impossible.
You either do it or don’t do it.
But you can’t do it wrong
Because it’s not about right and wrong.

It’s not about sitting still,
It’s about letting something inside get still.

It’s about attention and where it goes.

So go ahead and walk, move, do something,
Something that doesn’t need thinking.

And don’t be fooled.

Don’t think you don’t think when you’re mindful.
You’ll think.
You’re a human and humans think.
That’s why we practice.
To notice that we are such great, grand, relentless thinkers.

It goes like this: you’re following your breath, just like you’re supposed to.
And next thing you know, you’re thinking.
It happens. A lot.

Don’t get on your case.
Just notice.

As a noticer, you notice that you can always notice your thoughts instead of engaging with them.
{Except, of course, when you can’t. Or don’t.}

And then, the magic comes.

Sometimes you notice a tiny clear voice inside.
It sounds different from the usual voice, the one that’s there distracting you.
It’s different because it’s the voice of Truth, and it has no agenda.
It simply whispers in your ear and something inside you goes Ping! and that’s really cool.

But then there’s that other voice. The Nag. The Worrier. The Scold.

Be gentle with her.
When a thought about a problem comes up, gently tell yourself you can solve it later.
When a thought about something interesting comes up, promise yourself that you can daydream about the new shoes you want later.
{Be sure to keep your promise.  Daydreams are important.}
When a thought about something ordinary comes up, remind yourself that you can make the grocery list later.

Remind yourself that you are a noticer, an observer,
A scientist in a white lab coat observing microorganisms dance on a slide.
You are the Scientist of You.
You with the urgent, interesting, enticing, dancing thoughts.

When those thoughts get harsh,
Remind yourself that you are not your thoughts.
You are flesh and blood and hair and guts and spirit and energy,
And heart.
That’s what you are.
You are not your thoughts.  Listen again.
You are not your thoughts.

And if you notice you don’t want to go back to your breath, then
Notice your resistance.
Observe it with the curiosity of a child watching a bug crawl on a leaf.
Notice what color your resistance is and how it speaks to you.
Is it scratchy or smooth, fast or slow, high or low?
Does your resistance come in words, images, feelings?
Notice that your resistance, too, is just a thought.
And an I-don’t-want-to temper tantrum of a thought is still a thought, just like the other ones.
The ones that tempt you with visions of dinner.
The ones that rerun crappy conversations a million times and tell you that you have to do something about this RIGHT THIS MINUTE.
{Isn’t that funny?  What’s the big hurry?}

So go ahead and resist with your wholehearted approval.
Because there’s no wrong way be mindful.

Tags: acceptance · mindfulness · noticing · resistance · stillness

African Lessons in Noticing

September 11th, 2009 · 5 Comments

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Among the many lessons in the African bush, the lesson of stillness unfolded again and again. Many times during our game drives, we were invited to get still and notice what was happening around us.  Putting down our cameras and stopping our social chitchat, we sat still and simply did nothing.

Africa’s a place where there’s stillness in every direction, where the sights and sounds of human activity are completely absent, where not even the hum of a distant highway or an occasional overhead airplane breaks the silence.  Only the subtle presence of nature surrounded us.

Before long, our Shangaan tracker would quietly gesture to something which we hadn’t noticed.

Like the beautiful blue heron sitting beside this lake,

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the impala grazing across the field,

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or zebras hiding in the grasses,

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and hippos disguised as boulders,

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and elephants emerging from the forest.

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The more still we got, the more we saw and heard and learned, and the more we connected with the beauty and wonder around us.

And we can do it anywhere.

This is the place we can become the detached, curious observers of ourselves and access our inner wisdom and intuition.

Lao Tzu teaches, “Empty your mind of all thoughts, let your heart be at peace  . . . you can deal with whatever life brings you.”

Africa is a powerful reminder.

Tags: inner wisdom · intuition · noticing · stillness