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where are you, right now?

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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:


4 responses »

  1. What are we most aware of?

    this morning I awoke with the deep sense of life’s fragility – life hangs by a gossamer thread.

    We are human, we are mortal. “We are all here for a good time – but not a long time.” as the saying goes.

    What then to do but make the most of today?

  2. The part of your post that made me laugh that easy and relaxed belly laugh is this “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.” Yep, and now I am off to turn some dirt in the garden. I can hear chimes in the wind and a power saw someplace with tap of my fingers on the keys echoing just after the pressure I feel on my fingers as I hold my balance on the ball chair with feet up on a step. Grounded? not really, that’s okay the next moment is here now:)

  3. This is just what I needed today…

    I work overnights for child and family services and am just about to get the girls up and going for the day ahead of them… I realize that if I am not grounded during this process it could be disastrous. So I am so very thankful for your post and your blog as a whole.


    • May your practice continue to be informed by compassion. May you welcome these moments of “disaster” as essentiual to walking your path. thank you for writing.


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