In my new life I have been introduced more fully to mindfulness by J. In my old life I had read about meditation in Charlotte Joko Beck’s “Everyday Zen” and “Being Zen” by Ezra Bayda, books well received in their field where both were said to explore the subject with an admirable clarity, but to me they were like reading about a strange land in a foreign language. Even if I tried to be mindful I really didn’t seem to grasp it. Although I was curious and receptive I do not think I was ready, not ripe for the mindful life, there were other things in my emotional and mental inner world that needed attention first.
Moving on ten years, then J and I started practicing mindful meditation with John Kabat-Zinn’s material back in the summer of 2012 when the proverbial hit the fan emotionally. It was a way to uncover the falsehood in my thinking; the believing it represents reality. From this work, I discovered our thoughts “are real but not true” to quote Tara Brach, another great teacher in this spiritual tradition. Also that leaning into feelings rather than attempting to suppress them helps to disempower and dissipate them as they are contacted through the sensations in the body – ‘befriending’ them as Mark Williams et al write in their book “The Mindful Way Through Depression”.
Not for the first time I have had the incredible experience of returning to a book that I had “read” in my younger days and finding that the words make startling sense this time. The meditation books, the books on Buddhist philosophy and practice are now full of clarity for me, and I understand more absolutely not just with intellect; a felt sense of knowing you might say. Since their first reading a huge amount of life has happened; deaths, divorces, depressions, redundancy, relocation and remarriage for starters, but also my mind has been opened by the teachings and experiences of the writers and luminaries of the Buddhist and eastern traditions.
The bigger shift has been into practice; it is one thing to read about all this stuff, but quite another to put it to use as a formal practice of meditation. I started sitting for a 20 or 30 minutes meditation back in the early summer and now want to make a daily practice. Conversation with J deduced that my practices (meditation, writing, exercise) all need a stronger discipline, some order to make them a reality on a daily basis, or at least more regular practice than once or twice a week. In this new life I need to allow a routine to evolve and a new wellbeing practice to emerge that involves all the things I love…