An excerpt from Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book, Wherever You Go, There You Are:
Our thoughts can act like shades, our dream glasses. When we have them, we see dream family, dream job, dream colleagues, dream partners, dream friends, etc. We can live in a dream present for a dream future. Without knowing, we are coloring everything, putting our spin on it all. While things in the dream may change and give the illusion of being vivid and real, it is still a dream. If we take off our thinking shades, maybe, just maybe, we might see a little accurately what is here.
The shades of anxieties, fear, insecurities, energy field from my past actions, running around to tackle multiple things, chasing my cravings, denying what I don’t like, etc., can also taint limit how I see and experience life.
Taking off these shades would make my life simpler, smoother, fuller, brighter, lighter, happier, and more comfortable. How can I do that? I have developed ten nuggets to explore mindfulness, each captured from a book, a video, or a meditation visualization. I have listed my references at the bottom of this blog post.
ONE: A BEGINNER
I am experiencing this moment – that is, the present moment – for the first time. I am a beginner, embracing the new possibilities it brings. Can I let the magic unfold with lightness and childlike curiosity?
Thinking as if I am an expert narrows my space and vision, it adds the unnecessary burden or heaviness to this moment.
Can I avoid imposing my feelings, emotions, desires, attitudes, judgment, or past experiences to the present moment? I want to see things as they are without insisting on how they should be or the expected outcome.
I want to see others with their unique, miracle nature, and not through my lenses of ideas and opinions about them. I avoid insisting they should be how they were half an hour ago, or yesterday, or a couple of years ago, any other time in the past. I hope it gives them space to open up and makes them feel seen, recognized, and met.
Can I experience this moment with the lightness of a beginner’s mind, perceiving its purity and the freshness of its potential to give rise to the next moment?
Shunryu Suzuki Roshi: In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind, there are few.
TWO: A WITNESS, NOT A JUDGE
Can I witness whatever comes up in the mind or body without judging it?
It is very nature of the mind to compare, judge, and evaluate. It saves me from harm’s way; it guides me to act sensibly. For example, it helps me behave responsibly in society or avoid killing myself by standing in the middle of a busy freeway lane. However, it also creates a continuous stream of liking and disliking, causing me to judge or label everything good or bad.
Judging is black and white – I like it or don’t like it, I want it or don’t want it. When I want the experience to be a certain way, that’s craving, and I start to strive and put in too much effort. When I am dissatisfied with something, that’s aversion, and I try to avoid it or make it go away. Chronic, viral-like toxicity creates a veil, preventing me from clearly seeing and navigating reality.
I don’t judge the judging either. Being a witness to judging and separating myself from it mobilizes my true potential, recognizing what is happening and cultivating discernment.
Can I detach from the stream of thoughts without condemning or pursuing them? Can I cultivate moment-to-moment, non-judgmental awareness?
Can I accept and welcome the present moment as it is?
When I try to force an experience to be different from what it is, I don’t get to see its true nature. Fighting or resisting the pain allows it to dominate me, control me; it creates tremendous friction and pressure.
The acknowledgment is an active recognition of and not a passive resignation to my circumstance. If I know precisely where I stand, I can decide my next step. It enables a shift in outlook to deal with it. The athlete isn’t trying to fight with the pain; he is trying to move with it. A pregnant woman is working through contractions to give birth and not fighting against the contractions.
Can I embrace the current moment and find reasons to smile rather than holding out for something?
Acceptance is the gateway to freedom from suffering. It shifts my relationship to what is happening. It is healing and transformative. It unblocks ideas and insights to change my circumstance.
Stress is caused by being ‘here’ but wanting to be ‘there.’
Give up waiting as a state of mind. When you catch yourself slipping into waiting, snap out of it. Come into the present moment. Just be and enjoy being.
FOUR: LET GO
Unpleasant things are inevitable.
My mind can make me cling to what I want or push away what I don’t want. I can get stuck by holding on to narrow views, to self-serving hopes and wishes. Can I give up coercing, resisting, or struggling with the way things are?
Letting go refers to choosing to become transparent to the strong pull of my likes and dislikes, desires, attachments, and the unawareness that draws me to cling to them. To be transparent requires that I allow fears and insecurities to play themselves out in the field of full awareness. When I am unconsciously swept away by my thoughts, it can filter, color, bend, or shape my view. Can I capture those sticky moments in my awareness?
Can I recognize it when I get caught up, either pursuing and clinging or condemning and rejecting in seeking my gain? Can I release myself with full acceptance into the stream of present moments as they are unfolding?
I let each breath go. With that, can I let go of my attachments, narrow views, self-serving hopes & wishes, my fears, and insecurities? Can I let them release and exhume in the spacious awareness of the present moment?
Letting is go is letting be. Allow things to unfold in their way. Stillness, insight, and wisdom arise when I can settle into being complete at this moment, without having to seek or hold on to or reject anything.
Can’t I trust the natural wisdom of the body and how it supports life? My breath takes care of itself, gratefully. My ears can hear, eyes can see, organs can take care of the metabolism and biology of being alive. There are so many beautiful and complex things unfolding in the body.
If my body is trustworthy, why should my mind or heart be any different?
The more that I trust myself, the more I can trust other people and relationships with nature. It helps me believe in my confidence and ability to face challenges in life. It empowers me with a powerful stabilizing element embracing security, balance, and openness, which can intuitively guide me and protect me from negativity.
Jon Kabat-Zinn: Somewhere deep within us resides a profoundly healthy and trustworthy core, and that our intuitions, as deep resonances of the actuality of the present moment, are worthy of our trust.
Joseph Campbell: Follow your bliss, and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.
Shakti Gawain: To whatever degree you listen to and follow your intuition, you become a creative channel for the higher power of the universe.
Can I trust myself at this moment? The more that I tune in, listen to and follow through the voice from inside, the more I am allowing my natural intelligence and abundance from inside to emerge, enlightening me with new insights and answers.
Trust can help me explore other nuggets from this blog post.
Things unfold according to their nature.
What makes me rush them? The reason is, subtly or not so subtly, anger. What lies beneath the surface of anger is some fear. What is it in the current situation that is making me feel threatened? What stops me from accepting the current situation as it is? What is frustrating for me right now?
When I am impatient, I am not present in the current moment.
Patience brings me to my senses at the current moment. It guides me to accept the present moment as it is. It is healing and therapeutic.
Does that mean I can’t hurry when I need to? Yes, I can. It is possible to hurry patiently and mindfully and move fast because it is a conscious choice.
What will come next will be determined in no small measure by how I am now. Patience helps me bring balance to the present moment.
I am part of the universal consciousness, and it is pure joy and abundance.
There is a core inside of me that is rich beyond reckoning. Can I identify with it and let it emerge and radiate its energy outwardly?
Can I surrender to something greater and more expansive than the ego-centered self? It can keep me connected with that happy, peaceful core inside in times of fear, worries, concerns, or other frustrations. It allows me to share the fullness of my being my enthusiasm, vitality, spirit, trust, openness, and presence.
Any time that I give, it feels good. I think I am more enriched by it than anyone else. It lightens my mood. I feel connected. When I give, I am unblocking the limitless abundance and happiness inside me; it emerges from inside, showering love not only on me but also on others around me and the entire universe. It guides me to be in the state where I can explore other nurturing ideas from this blog post – the childlike curiosity, acceptance, letting go, trust, patience, witness to my thinking, non-judging, etc.
Can I cultivate a mindset to give, to offer myself to others?
EIGHT: PROACT, AND NOT REACT
Mind’s thinking is just nature. Just as I can’t stop or avoid nature, I can’t resist my thoughts. What can help me live with my thoughts skillfully:
- Being a witness saves me from getting entangled with my thinking.
- The paradigm of accepting the moment cuts down friction from trying to change or manipulate reality artificially.
- Letting go of attachment to external desires helps me recognize and control my cravings and aversions.
- Trusting my inner core allows me to turn in, listen to, and follow through on calling and intuition.
- The mindset of giving and surrendering myself to something larger than me keeps me connected to the abundance from inside.
When I am acting from this spacious awareness, whatever I end up doing happens from the state of being.
Can I tap into my stillness and native intelligence using all these tools to proactively take on initiatives that have a deeper meaning for me? It can give me energy, drive, balance, and joy from inside. It can help me transform my thinking into an incredible blessing and an empowering asset or tool. I don’t have to chase the mirage of virtual reality inside my mind, nor do I have to react or run away from things I fear.
I read it somewhere. My mind is a good servant but a terrible master.
I am grateful for so many positive things happening in my life.
My physical intelligence is taking care of a range of complex tasks so that I can eat, walk, talk, write, smile, eat, see, and do so many beautiful things. I am so thankful for that.
What are other blessings in my life? I would start with family and friends, a comfortable home, the food I eat, my ability to think and reflect, etc. There so many blessings that enrich my life; the list can go on forever.
Having a sense of gratitude helps me be in the moment, stopping the scramble, even if momentarily, to run away from things I don’t like and or to chase what I desire and crave.
A sense of gratitude creates a shift in my inner state. I can explore other nurturing ideas from this blog post – the childlike curiosity, acceptance, letting go, trust, patience, witness to my thinking, non-judging, etc. In that regard, the effect is very similar to the idea of generosity and giving to others; it allows the abundance, the spacious awareness, healing synergies, and vastness from inside me to release or emerge and enrich my present moment.
Being grateful helps me appreciate what I have; it brings a balancing perspective, making me happier, lighter, brighter, and wiser.
Can I be always aware of blessings and positives in my life and be grateful for those?
TEN: LOSE MYSELF
When I run, sometimes, I get in a zone where I feel so relaxed and peaceful. Endorphins kick in and probably are helping, too. I enjoy the stillness; it is so soothing, energizing, and decompressing. It gets me in my flow; everything becomes so effortless. I have experienced getting new insights, new ideas, or new ways to look at a situation or problem, unlocking new answers.
I feel so relaxed and focused when I am writing or preparing for presentations. There is stillness, and sometimes, I even forget where I am and who is around me. There is an oasis of calm in the middle of noises, even if I am at a very busy Starbucks where there is music, people talking, and so much activity going on.
I love to go out in nature. The change in experience engages me, making me forget everything else. When I return to routine after that, I can focus on work better, relate to other people more quickly, being more productive, think more transparent, and am more energetic.
I think the common thread in the three experiences is losing myself. I am no longer drawn in or distracted by thoughts in my mind. It allows my innate intelligence or intuition to emerge, popping up aha moments with insights.
Another way to look at it is, being in the grind of a daily routine is like standing in the middle of a forest. I can see a few trees around me, but I can’t get to see how big the forest is, which other types of trees are there, what is the terrain, etc.? When I look at the forest from an aircraft or top of a mountain, I have a much better overall forest perspective. Losing myself in moments is doing something similar to my ability to observe. It gives me a broader or higher big-picture perspective to the forest of my thoughts. It naturally allows me to be a more effective witness; it makes it easier for me to let go and detach from the bind of emotions.
I think losing myself in something that I enjoy also helps me remove my thinking shades – running, hiking, cooking, reading, writing, coaching, presenting, storytelling, etc.
SUMMARY: CLARIFYING MY MIND
I think the ten nuggets are interconnected; anyone of these is opening doors to the others.
Can I hold space where there is peace, calm, and a nurturing flow emanating from a very relaxed and nurturing core? Can I be compassionate and empathetic in my relationships with family, friends, customers, and colleagues? Can I channel my creativity to conceive and develop innovative ideas that make a difference to others? Can I be part of, be in harmony with, nature’s collective conscience that includes all things and all living beings?
It starts with clarifying my mind, being in the present moment to tap into the stillness, spacious awareness, abundance, and love from inside. There is no overnight miracle or a magic wand; I try the best I can to stay in the present moment. It is a journey, a process.
Henry David Thoreau: Only that day dawns to which we are awake.
Wu Men Hui-k’ai:
Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter.
If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life.
REFERENCES – LINKS, VIDEOS, BOOKS
I am grateful for the following books, videos, articles, conversations, meditations, training, etc., that gave me insights.
- Wherever You Go, There You Are by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn
- Mindfulness Daily by Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach (meditation visualizations audio training split over forty 10-12 min sessions)
- Minding Your Body, Mending Your Mind by Dr. Joan Borysenko
- Spontaneous Healing by Dr. Andrew Weil
- Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
- Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain
- Video from Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn – Nine Attitudes of Mindfulness
- Article from Sayadaw U Tejaniya – Awareness from the Moment You Wake up
- Readings from Pema Chodron
A couple of other sources that inspired me when I was much younger to explore more about my consciousness and how it connects to everything that I do:
- Atma Siddhi from Shrimad Rajchandra Ji
- Self-unfoldment from Swami Chinmayananda Ji
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Which of these ten nuggets resonate with you?