Ordinary, Everyday Mindfulness
We’ve all experienced moments of wonder and bliss: a beautiful sunset engages our rapt attention, an act of loving kindness fills us with joy, a nighttime breeze bathes us in deep peace. And then the moment is gone and in its place is an ever so small longing to have another or longer moment. As human beings we are hardwired for this “bliss connection” — which is why chocolate and Starbucks enjoy such commercial success. And this connection is amazingly also available to us through ordinary, everyday mindfulness.
Simply put, mindfulness is the act of bringing our fully engaged attention to the present moment – which is what sometimes happens with the awesome sunset and the first sip of morning coffee. Although we use the word “mindful,” a wonder moment is internalized through our attention or awareness and is not a product of our thinking mind – as soon as we start the inner litany of reasons for finding bliss in the brew of the day, we are no longer experiencing bliss, we have moved on to just looking at a snapshot of it.
So if it’s ordinary, everyday, garden variety stuff why don’t we see more of it? Why do we always move on to viewing the image or living the memory rather than lingering in the joy without a thought in our head? And I guess the answer to that is: even ordinary garden varieties only grow where they’ve been planted.
No matter how we phrase it, sunsets, coffee, and chocolate are not bliss itself; they are only catalysts that activate our bliss regulator. And since the “bliss connection” is what we long for, it can be really good to know that the catalysts are all around us. Finding and using them is simply a matter of perception and practice.
Like painting a picture, mindfulness is learned as a skill and, with loving application, it becomes an art. Within various forms of meditation are the skills that can turn us into a Van Gogh or Monet of living art. Once we have the technique, it’s a simple choice of what picture we want to create or what garden we want to plant.
Mindfulness and Presence Practices is the new name for our gathering which meets to explore different approaches to meditation. Since there are many ways to make a journey, while we practice meditation we experiment with different techniques to center our thoughts, bring mindfulness into our daily lives, and experience Presence (which is the name for that moment of bliss). In that way, we each have the chance to explore what works best for us individually.
In September we will resume the meditation schedule; most likely we will again be meeting on Monday evenings and Thursday mornings. Additionally there is the possibility for meeting in homes to accommodate those who find it difficult to get to the church. Probably we will be starting the week of September 16, so please look for final announcements in the Happenings. As always, this program is also open to the community at large. Please see me in church or contact me with any questions about content or suggested preferences about time and location. M. E. Tanabe, Ph. # 815-337 9895 firstname.lastname@example.org