- Andrew Lewis
HOW THINGS BEGIN TO CHANGE
The mindfulness, meditative practice can help people accommodate the stresses, strains, difficulties and heartaches of life, without becoming overwhelmed. It also helps with the joy and fun too! It works best when it is a 'way of life', something 'grown into', rooted and established as part of the way we are and the way we observe things. Many approach it when they are experiencing particularly difficult times and they are looking for it to work as a 'quick fix', the magic wand that will wave all troubles away. That's like expecting to run a marathon without doing any training for it. Unfortunately, this is how mindfulness is sometimes marketed. It doesn't work like this. It is deeper, better.
For it to work at this deeper, better level we must become interested enough to make it something that is woven into our everyday experience. It is a PRACTICE; we become interested in living the practice and noticing the subtle changes as the seed germinates. It eventually becomes something that we BE or something that we ARE, rather than something that we (just) DO. This has little to do with how much time we wish to spend sitting in formal meditation; we notice the lines blurring between formal meditation and the flow of everyday life.
At the heart of it is the understanding that we can shape our minds and bodies to choose a response to our experience rather than blindly react with clinging, craving, fear or aversion. The choices we make and focus on, then begin to reshape our old habits of thought, we find a strength we didn't believe we had, and we begin to take responsibility for our internal environment. We discover our own centre of gravity, our own place to stand, our own 'place to be'. We have little, sometimes no control over external events and it is a recipe for anxiety and unhappiness to struggle for such control. In contrast, to cultivate and look after our internal environment, to take charge of 'how we want to be', is liberating and brings peace. Strangely, too, it often brings about changes to our external environment in unexpected and delightful ways.
The practice always has to start with a simple (that's not to say easy) awareness of things as they are. Seeing 'what is here' in its pure, unelaborated state, without judging or evaluating, without fear or resistance, longing or attachment. Just seeing 'what is here' without telling a story about it. Just gently moving alongside it without ego or agenda, and with a brave, kind and curious heart. The potter sees the wheel and the clay as they really are, before she begins her work.
We must remember that all lives have joy and sorrow. We should expect them to come to the table frequently through our lives: but where we sit them and what we feed them becomes our responsibility and our work. It becomes our mindfulness practice. It is where and how we shape our identity. Like the potter we begin to give shape and form, but instead of clay we are shaping and forming the the narrative of our lives.