Mindfulness Meditation by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Mindfulness Meditation by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Author:Jon Kabat-Zinn
Format: mobi, epub
Published: 2011-01-30T08:00:00+00:00

Part Three - In the Spirit of Mindfulness

All of us are apprenticed to the same teacher

that the religious institutions originally worked with: reality.

Reality-insight says ... master the twenty-four hours.

Do it well, without self-pity.

It is as hard to get the children herded into the car pool

and down the road to the bus as it is to chant sutras

in the Buddha-hall on a cold morning.

One move is not better than the other, each can be quite

boring, and they both have the virtuous quality of repetition.

Repetition and ritual and their good results come in

many forms. Changing the filter, wiping noses, going to

meetings, picking up around the house, washing dishes,

checking the dipstick—don't let yourself think these are

distracting you from your more serious pursuits.

Such a round of chores is not a set of difficulties we

hope to escape from so that we may do our "practice"

which will put us on a "path"—it is our path.

Gary Snyder, The Practice Of The Wild

Sitting by Fire

In the old days, once the sun went down, the only source of light people had, other than the changing moon and firmament of stars, was fire. For millions of years, we human beings sat around fires, gazing into the flames and embers with cold and darkness at our backs. Maybe this is where formal meditation first got its start.

Fire was a comfort to us, our source of heat, light, and protection—dangerous but, with great care, controllable. Sitting by it gave us relaxation at the end of the day. In its warm, flickering light, we could tell stories and talk about the day past, or just sit silently, seeing the reflection of our minds in the ever-changing flames and the glowing landscapes of a magical world. Fire made the darkness bearable, and helped us feel secure and safe. It was calming, reliable, restoring, meditative, and absolutely necessary for survival.

This necessity has flown from our everyday lives, and with it almost all occasion to be still. In today's fast-paced world, fires are impractical or an occasional luxury to set a certain mood. We have only to flip a switch when the outer light begins to dim. We can light up the world as brightly as we want and keep going with our lives, filling all our waking hours with busyness, with doing. Life gives us scant time for being nowadays, unless we seize it on purpose. We no longer have a fixed time when we have to stop what we are doing because there's not enough light to do it by ... we lack that formerly built-in time we had every night for shifting gears, for letting go of the day's activities. We have precious few occasions nowadays for the mind to settle itself in stillness by a fire.

Instead, we watch television at the end of the day, a pale electronic fire energy, and pale in comparison. We submit ourselves to constant bombardment by sounds and images that come from minds other than our own, that fill our heads with information and trivia, other people's adventures and excitement and desires.


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