Waking up, hearing the sounds of early garbage pickup, birds, music from somewhere — I begin to notice. Listening to my body’s lament of sore throat, aching shoulder, tingling right hand — I pay attention. Beginning to think of what lies ahead, a funeral this afternoon, two lawyer’s letters sitting unopened, what day of the week is this — distractions flood in. Preparing porridge, slicing a banana, putting the kettle on, noting that there’s no yoghurt left — I observe routine tasks that require no thinking.
“Mindfulness,” writes my Zen teacher Chozen Bays,
“is deliberately paying attention, being fully aware of what is happening both inside yourself — in your body, heart, and mind — and outside yourself, in your environment. Mindfulness is awareness without judgment or criticism. … We are simply witnessing the many sensation, thoughts, and emotions that come up ….”
As you read these words, what are you aware of? Take a moment to scan your field of observation. Go inside: what bodily sensations? what thoughts? what feelings? what longings? Simply notice. If judgments arises (“this is silly” or “I wish those feelings would go away”), notice that as well, then move on. Observe “in a straightforward, no-nonsense way, … warmed with kindness and spiced with curiosity” as Chozen puts it. Now do the same for the things around you. What do you see, hear, smell, touch, sense? No need ‘to get it right’ or to be catch everything: simply note whatever comes within your awareness.
Mindfulness brings us into this moment, into what is happening all around us right now. It re-awakens us to the simplicity we long for but may have lost track of. No need to take a special workshop, find a guru, buy spandex gear, or sit for days on a mountain top. Everything is right here — inside and in front of us.
source: Bays, J.C. (2009). Mindful eating: a guide to recovering a healthy and joyful relatioship to food. Boston: Shambala, p. 2. image: confidentwriting.com