Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit

A Year of Mindfulness-Overlooking Something?

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Namaste dear mindfulness friends. How did your practice of noticing dislike turn out? For me it was a time to notice the small triggers, such as grumbling about the morning alarm, the ache in my lower back, or my resistance to exercise (ugh, do I have to do that exercise again?)

Most often, for me, becoming aware of dislike makes me realize that many of my dislikes are pretty insignificant in the bigger picture of life. I try to find the positive in what I’m grumbling about-like realizing that half way through my exercise routine I actually start to feel better. (I’m still working on the positive about the alarm clock.)

This Week’s Practice: Are You Overlooking Something?

This practice dovetails nicely with last week’s practice about dislike. Why? Because often when we’re complaining about something that we don’t like, we end up missing the good stuff. In other words, we fail to notice what else is around us.

As we have learned through many of our mindfulness practices, we tend to have a narrow focus as we move through our day. We only pay attention to what is directly in front of us. The items on our to-do list, whatever is on the TV or computer. Often, we only widen our attention when we are jolted out of our narrow focus by some unusual occurrence, such as a loud bang.

When something unusual occurs, we become alert. We stop what we’re doing and look around or look up. Maybe we get up and move around.

So why don’t we spontaneously stop what we’re doing and enlarge our sphere of listening and seeing? Must we be forced to notice our surroundings by some outside occurrence?

Take a moment to stop reading this blog post. It’s okay. It will still be here when you return.

Turn off the music or TV in the background.

Sit a few minutes in silence.

What do you hear? Are you missing something?

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t focus on the task at hand. Maybe you’re working on a term paper. You’ve got a deadline coming up for a project at work. Certainly we all have situations where we need to intensely focus.

But much like knowing you should turn your eyes away from your computer monitor to give them a break, so should you give your mind a break.  Notice what is around you without any internal dialogue, criticism, or judgement. In Zen practice this is called “not knowing.” A very wise kind of ignorance. Because when we rest in not knowing, many possibilities open up.

Reflection: For a pause that refreshes, at least once a day, stop trying to know and do. Open your awareness and simply sit in “not knowing.” -Jan Chozen Bays

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