by clicking the "Next" arrow.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Mindful : December 2015
As the comedian Emo Phillips once said, “I used to think my brain was the most important organ in the body. And then I realized which organ was telling me that.” What if you listened, not to that loudmouthed brain, but to that deep yearning inside that got you to prac- tice in the first place, that has touched you now and then, and fuels a desire for change and ease in your life? See if you can sit with that inner wellspring of equanimity and health that you have touched inside. And consider practicing right where you are for a bit! It’s unconventional but if you’re going to be busy watch- ing your mental activity over whether or not to get up and meditate, you’re meditating already, so why move? Nobody said the cushion was magic, and what is a bed but a really big cush- ion anyway? Drop into your breath, let your thoughts unfold as they will, and log some meditation time, too! It’s not a compromise or an alternative to formal meditation, it actually IS meditation if you choose to treat it as such. Mindfulness practice happens any- time we open up to it. Inspiration, expiration, and the illusion of control I looked over in stop-and-go traffic and saw a little boy firmly intent on the simulated kiddie dashboard hanging from his mom’s headrest in front of him. His pudgy fingers white-knuckled on the steering wheel and shift lever, brow furrowed with the weight of the world on his shoulders. We are often like this young child, clutching the levers and pressing the buttons of our own lives with all our might, carefully trying to coax a desired course out of the chaos of life, but who are we kidding? How much control do we really have, and how much energy do we invest in trying to control and contrive outcomes that we are convinced are right, or good, Getting our tush on the cush You know the scenario: The early- morning time that seemed perfect for meditation practice rolls around exceedingly early and you are lying there in your cozy bed in flannel jammies while a virtual tennis match goes on in your head: “Get up and meditate, it’s 5:30!” “I don’t want to, I’m too tired today.” “ You committed to this practice. Get up!” “I’ll meditate tonight after work.” “You always say that and it never happens. Get your butt in gear!” “Five more minutes . . .” “Seriously? You can’t expect me to fall for that one again!” If (or when) you DO get up and practice, you are glad you did and may feel a bit smug about having overcome the inner dialogue to do what you knew was best. If (or when) you DON’T get up and practice, you know that guilt-soaked aftermath of recrimination and self- loathing that arises and activates those old judgmental habits of mind about your worth as a human and your ability as a meditator. So what to do when something (everything) seems more attractive than formal practice? You can notice the temptation as one of the hindrances of meditation prac- tice and simply allow it to be another arising in your awareness. But some- times that isn’t so easy. Then again, who said this was going to be easy? If simply noticing hindrances doesn’t lead to change in your prac- tice, you might consider noticing that you have an inner ping-pong match going on between your deep desire to practice and the agenda that your wandering wild brain has for you. It’s just possible that your brain does not always have your own best interests at heart. Think about it: Can you really trust your brain to take good care of you? or imperative? And while we can chart our course and connect with an intention to move in desired direc- tions, there are often circumstances beyond our control and all we can do is navigate them like whitewater rapids, clinging tenuously to our intentions and keeping our eyes on the prize. Take breathing as a great analog y to life. Breathing is a sing ular activity to which we can tune in whenever we wish, and the opportunity exists to actually control it for awhile. We can make our bodies breathe out of our own intentions for a time. But if we were left to be totally, consciously responsible for breathing for the bal- ance of our lives, we would frequently botch it up and end up gasping for breath and keeling over blue-faced on a reg ular basis. We just can’t keep up that kind of control while going about our lives. Fortunately we don’t need to. Life is like that, too. We can exert control over certain aspects, but things tend to turn out best when we don’t cling too tightly. We can hold life lightly, remain clear on our inten- tion, and then see what unfolds. Or we can cling with a death-grip to our idea of what needs to happen and see how well THAT works out! When it comes to meditation, we can try to breathe in certain ways, but that just gets us tangled up in trying to control an already perfect process that actually works best when we get out of our own way. See if you can simply let the breath breathe itself and see what can come of that soft attitude and gentle kind- ness of attention. That’s meditation. Pure and simple. No bells, no whistles, no steering wheels or shift levers. Pretty cool, huh? I highly recommend it. ● practices insight 76 mindful December 2015