The human body has an instinctive ability to shift into profound rest states in order to heal, energize, integrate, tune oneself up and assimilate learning. Mediation promotes a heightened awareness of the details of every day life.
Mindfulness is the practice of opening to and accepting life just as it is - a constantly changing process. To begin, we must make the necessary effort to calm the mind and body. Without this first step our intention to be present is often overwhelmed by our habits of reactivity and struggle - trying to fix or control the conditions of the moment. To calm the mind and body we practice connecting and sustaining our attention to ordinary experience in each moment; for example, the sensations of the breath coming and going or the sensations of lifting and placing each foot as we walk. This simple and clear patient seeing is at the heart of mindfulness practice.
Tranquility arises by training the attention to return to the present moment experience over and over again. This training is directed by an understanding heart that appreciates how difficult it is to remain present. Still, no matter how difficult it appears to be, our practice is to recognize what is happening and to gently return the attention to the breath, the body or sounds. It is our persistent effort that calms the mind, energizes our practice and leads to clearer seeing. We use ordinary experiences, such as the breath, as a refuge - a place to refocus the mind when it has wondered away from the present. Over time, this capacity to be present becomes a great friend and allows us to relate to all experience with greater clarity, trust and acceptance. The ability to abide with the flow of time, as opposed to imagining the past or the future, creates the context for insight to arise. Wisdom, compassion and peace of mind are the fruits of meditation.
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