2023-03-08-Gil-Mindfulness of Body (3 of 4) Daily Activities
2:06AM Mar 9, 2023
So continuing the topic of how mindfulness of the body can support us in challenges. The third exercise the Buddha gives in his famous teachings on mindfulness 30 teachings about the body is to be mindful, and to be aware to know the activities we're doing with the body as we're doing them. So, as we're moving, certainly, as we're walking, as we're talking, as we are putting on our clothes, as we're going to the bathroom, as we're showering or bathing, each of these everyday activities is a meditation center in itself is a monastery in itself is a sacred dimension sacred place for practice of mindfulness. And to see it as you know, as a, as a meditation center as a sacred location, as is to put a lot of value on the presence, the attention, the care that we give, and be in being with each everyday activity that we do. Eating, the Buddha mentions drinking, lit stretching out your hand to grab something, to open a door, turn a doorknob, to close the door, to put on your shoes, to be cooking in the kitchen or cleaning. There's you know, innumerable ones of these everyday daily activities. And the third exercise in developing mindfulness is to bring mindfulness attention into these activities as we do them. And this has a lot of benefits in kind of the ordinary way of thinking about mindfulness is a way of being mindful in the present moment. And it's a way of building up the muscle of mindfulness muscle of attention to the present, so that we can begin abiding living in the present more and more, and thereby receiving the benefits from doing so. And, but also, doing this reveals what's going on otherwise, that if we stop and pay attention to that stuff, but if we do our activities, while we're attending to them, and really present for them, there's a you might notice how the mind has other ideas, it's drifting off and thinking about tomorrow or yesterday or a fantasy of some kind. And the emotional life's can follow the thoughts or the emotions can be very much about something that's not present here and now, and are being reinforced by the thoughts, the stories about this other time or their place. And so there are traces this residue left over from other things, where there's preoccupation, concerns, attachments, resistances fears, that are operating, that have a kind of, sometimes a life of their own momentum of their own. And it isn't necessarily wrong to have that. But it's really helpful to see it. And when we're present, for our daily activities, standing over the stove, you know, stirring a pot of soup, to really be there for that stirring, we notice, well, I'm not really there. I'm still thinking about the traffic ticket I got and how it's unfair. And this and that. And, and so there's so something happened to us earlier in the day that's sticky, and we're kind of stuck with it or glued to it or preoccupied with it. And so seeing that, as we are stirring the soup was oh, look at that. Now I can see the power this has over me. If we just go about our life, it just unconsciously, let us at the mind think about its preoccupations and thoughts. It might seem like business as usual. And we might not even notice that it's how much the mind is caught how much the mind is preoccupied. And the influence that preoccupation has in our body or emotions or hearts. But if you're stirring the soup, and you see that you're thinking about the traffic ticket, then wow, that's really strong. Oh, is this really the right thing to be thinking about? Or do I need to attend to this in some way? Do I need to settle something deeper? Maybe I should turn the stove off and go sit down for five minutes and just really let the the leftover I'm agitation of the traffic ticket to wash through me and kind of drain out by just sitting breathing with it. That's what's needed. Otherwise, the residue of that tension agitation is going to be driving my thoughts. So the simple way of maybe saying this is that as we bring our attention to the present moment, and try to be with what's happening as we're doing it, we start noticing how much we're not there. And that reveals something really important about ourselves important information. And then what you do next is up to you. But at least you know, something that you didn't know before. In terms of some of the challenges we have in our life, the some challenges we get stuck in, the stronger the challenge, sometimes there's a stuckness. And some people freeze, go numb, some people hunker down, and some people collapse. And some people do the opposite and get agitated and really spinning out. To go about our daily activities, the simple brushing our teeth, washing our face, should really be there in a simple, relaxed way, is the middle way between collapsing or being numb or frozen, or being agitated. It's using the movements, the activities of the body, to channel the energy to give space for the energy to get movement to get fluidity to lubricate our system. Without it being too much or too little. Going out to daily activities as a way of loosening up as a way of settling as a way of grounding, as a way of not being glued to our challenges we have our concerns for them, is very freeing, very helpful. it lubricates hand massages, it kind of can be grounding. So that we can be more wise about how we consider our challenges how we address them. But if so the more engaged we are with our more caught up we are in challenges, the more it really has grabbed us, sometimes the more useful it is to do something, some activity that kind of frees us a little bit loosens up a little bit or settles us a little bit. Sometimes like it could be going for a walk and and in the walk is what allows the energy of the emotional energy of the challenge to start becoming more fluid and not so stuck. Or if we are collapsing intuitive, and going numb, it can kind of wake us up a little bit. If we go the opposite direction and get too agitated, the wall could actually be settling, the walking around these daily activities, I like to think of them as the middle away, that brings things into balance. So you might try it that that next time you have some kind of real challenge that's hard for you to be with. Maybe not the most challenging, but something that you know, moderately challenging is difficult. Don't just sit and do nothing, don't just fret. But don't, don't go kind of numb and do things on automatic pilot. Enter into the activity of what you're doing in the moment with mindfulness, and presence, maybe even an embodied presence. So you're really there. Almost like imagine that you're a dancer or an actor who is embodying the part of the whole being stirring the soup. brushing the teeth, and and see if that creates a little bit more space and lubrication. For the challenges we have more more balanced by the time we finish that maybe we're a little bit more centered, a little bit more able to think more clearly. It's not that easy to just brushing your teeth is called All it's going to take. But we have lots of different everyday activities through daily life. And to be mindful, really mindful of them. We have lots of little opportunities to reset to ground and to discover what is really going on what are their residue what's left over? What's the strength of that residue, what's a strength of the are kind of the way we're glued to the preoccupation that challenge we have and to not necessarily challenge doesn't go away. But one of the things practice can do is they can maybe to solve the glue that keeps us glued to it or the stickiness that can be washed away. So that unstuck we can You know, address the challenge or be with it or figure out what's best to do.
So we have many opportunities throughout the day, daily life practice, into the to be mindful of the activities of the daily life. And maybe it's useful to think of it as the ordinary, regular repeated activities that you do, as, as your meditation center, your monastery or your sacred grove sacred spot, not the place, but the activity is where it is so significant. And if you take you know, a dozen, two dozen of the regular activities you do through the day, and really make it a place to lubricate, to massage to ground, to be present, to discover more clearly how there's so much residue, so much ways in which they're spinning out. I think it could be invaluable for helping us work with a challenge which have a haven't everyday life. To not do that. For some of us that might mean that we're actually feeding the preoccupation, it's feeding the kindness, the the emotional reactivity, to the challenge. If we, you know, that's so easy to give into it or live in that all the time. But to have some kind of way to cut through the reactivity, cut through the stuckness that we have around challenges, is invaluable in our ability to address them more wisely. And if you have no challenges, then it's a delight to give ourselves over fully to the physical activity of these daily activities that we do to really enter into it and embodied, absorbed way just this just washing the dishes just staring the soup, just brushing the teeth, and and maybe that just is a source of rejuvenation. May the activities of your daily life become a sacred dimension of your life. Thank you