Sunday, December 9, 2012

Zen Mindfulness

What is it? Continuous, clear awareness of the present moment. Always returning, whether from an enjoyable fantasy, an emotional outburst or a melancholy remembrance; always returning to this moment. Being fully here, present-moment after present-moment. This is mindfulness. It’s not about having your “mind-full” of something, it’s actually the opposite – it’s the setting aside of your mental and emotional baggage, resulting in a clarity and a fluidity that lets thoughts, feelings and perceptions flow smoothly through your awareness without sticking.
How do we get it? Mindfulness is something you do rather than get. But, as you find as soon as you start trying, it can be quite difficult to simply pay attention to what is happening right in front of you. If you’re like most people, you’ve trained yourself over many years to spend your energy following your inner narratives. So, as soon as you’ve set your awareness on something, it bounces away to interpretations, speculations and projections, and often ends up in a swirl of emotion. To change this you have to re-train your mind.

3 steps
The Three Step method is a roadmap to the mindful life. Rooted in Zen Buddhism, its new approach begins with viewing our states of mind as physical places that we visit. We explore the landscape of each one and discover its main characteristics so that we can pinpoint our position on the roadmap at any time. As we do this we learn to move between these mindstates at will. Ultimately we see how to integrate and balance these states, moving from one to the other to live our life in a dynamic way directly inspired by the living moment rather than being unconsciously driven by our fears, worries and fantasies. When we’re emotionally overwhelmed, we’ll recognize that we’re in that “place” and know which mind-state to move to in order to regain equanimity. When we need to take resolute action, we’ll know which state is best suited to the task. The end result is a self-perpetuating mindfulness: when practicing the techniques the mind becomes calm and clear, which in turn makes the process itself more effective.                                                                          
What happens when we practice this kind of mindfulness? Part of the process is deep relaxation of both body and mind, which can dramatically lower our stress level. We develop a greater ability to concentrate, making us more effective when applying ourselves to our daily tasks. We also find ourselves spending more time in the subtle joy that comes from letting go of our day-to-day concerns and simply floating in this living moment.


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