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Mindful : April 2017
I won’t be able to blow his house down. We play this again and again. We both love it. It’s obvious why my son wants to be in the house of bricks. And where our attention is con- cerned we all prefer the house of bricks. When we start meditating, without any cultivation, the attention is not stable. We lack the capac- ity to simply be with experience. Our attention is untrained. It’s not anybody’s fault. It’s like a house of straw. It doesn’t take much to over- whelm us. We are easily blown around. We get caught up in maintaining our big story of who we are, flitting about, seeking one solution after another, always giving more care and attention to the past and the future than we give to the life that is appearing in front of us—the people we are eating breakfast with. We live at the mercy of our thoughts and thought patterns. As we begin to cultivate attention—which requires us to move counter to much of the mainstream direction of our society and economy—maybe we gain a little stability. Then we have a house of sticks. A little more stable. As greater stability emerges over time, and you are content to let your attention settle, with less of an urge to hop around, maybe you find you are in a house of bricks. I wouldn’t want to take the metaphor too far, though. Unlike a brick house, a stable mind is also amazingly flexible and responsive. But your sense of rootedness may even allow you to feel that it’s OK if the wolf comes around. Bring it on. My son wants the wolf to come when he is in the house of bricks. It can even be fun. The stability that comes with training gives us a sense of confidence—the con- fidence that we can be with more of what comes up and into our lives, without running off into other thought worlds. Our meditation practice builds us a proverbial house of bricks, one we can take with us wher- ever we go. And when the wolf is done huffing and puffing, maybe he will give up and come in for tea. If he’s a wolf like me, he was never all that dangerous in the first place. ● Without cultivation, attention is not stable. It doesn’t take much to overwhelm us. We are at the mercy of our thoughts and thought patterns. Training changes that. 74 mindful April 2017 insight