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Mindful : April 2017
Usually you’ve got tons of stimulation—internet, TV, phone, the whole package—and here you have a little gap. So, what do I do with that gap? Right, I should pick up my phone, check messages, email, make a phone call, push the button, flick the switch, click refresh. Or maybe I could let that gap be here and place attention on something stable, on life. And connect, really connect, not like connecting to the network, but connecting to the network of life. Usually we need something buzzy or bright, flashy, to connect with, but as attention settles down, we can find richness in ordinary experience, in a modest world that is just about breathing, the air on your skin, the sun warming your face, the chirp of a bird, the smell of the earth. And having found something so rich in something so boring as the breath, when you leave your few days of meditation, you pick up just how much is happening around you and in you. You may just have a little more freedom about where to land with your attention. Back in life, you will likely become obsessed again by the story of me-and-my-life that we’re constantly refining and trying to get exactly the way we want it to be. Always tweaking it and adjusting it in keeping with what presents itself to us. Yet, compared to breath-world, where you connect with what’s actually happening, this obsessive storyline is not very stable. The more stable, the more unified, the field of attention becomes, the stronger the mind becomes. We can actually be with more and more intense levels of experience, without being thrown. It doesn’t mean you’re never thrown. It’s a general direction, a trend. The g reater the sta- bility, the more it takes to unbalance the mind. At home in your own mind My four-year-old son was home sick the other day. We had an inside day. My wife was out, so we spent the whole day together. We revisited a game we played a lot when he was younger: the three little pigs. The game unfolds the same way every time. He always wants to be one of the little pigs. Can you guess which one? I get to be the big bad wolf. He gets inside a little fort we’ve built out of couch pillows and a sheet, and as soon as the wolf says, “Little pig, little pig, let me come in,” he yells out, “House of bricks!” He says this even before he says, “Not by the hair of my chinny, chin chin.” He wants to be sure I know that no matter how much I huff and puff → insight