15 Jul
Posted in: Books, Groups, Practice
By    Comments Off on It Works Even When It Doesn’t

It Works Even When It Doesn’t

For today, I’d like to share a bit of practice reassurance by Gil Fronsdal, from his sweet little collection of essays titled, The Issue at Hand. (Download a free copy here.)

“In practicing mindfulness, it can be helpful to remember that the practice works even when it doesn’t seem to work. Perhaps this is explained best through an analogy.

“Consider a mountain stream where the water is quite clear, and seems placid and still. But if you place a stick into the water, a small wake around the stick shows that in fact the water is flowing. The stick becomes a reference point that helps us notice the movement of the water.

“Similarly, the practice of mindfulness is a reference point for noticing aspects of our lives that we may have missed. This is especially true for mindfulness of breathing. In trying to stay present for the breath, you may become aware of the concerns and momentum of the mind that pull the attention away from the breath. If you can remain with the breath, then obviously mindfulness of breathing is working. However, if your attempt to stay with the breath results in increased awareness of what pulls you way from the breath, then the practice is also working.

“Without the reference of mindfulness practice, it is quite easy to remain unaware of the preoccupations, tensions, and momentum operating in your life. For example, if you are busily doing many things, the concern for getting things done can blind you to the tension building in the body and mind. Only stopping to be mindful may you become aware of the tensions and feelings that are present….

“Remember, if we learn from what is going on, regardless of what is happening, the practice is working, even when it seems not to be working, when we aren’t able to stay with the breath….

“And when we ARE settled on the breath, then the heart becomes clear, peaceful, and still like a mountain pool. Then we can see all the way to the bottom.”

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