Resting in Mindfulness

I cannot remember which Buddhist teacher wrote about “resting in Mindfulness,” but it is a perspective I have  been working with lately.

In meditation on the breath, there is the in-breath, the out-breath, and the pause as they switch. For me the in-breath represents drawing the outer world into my being. The out-breath represents my inner self rejoining the external world. And that moment of silence between breaths, can be resting in Mindfulness. There is such peace in that inner silence.

In ordinary life, when tasks are done or at least put aside for the time being, my mind if not my body goes quickly off into something else. Checking e-mail, planning what will come next, playing with the dog, double checking on other tasks or expectations, doing rather than just being. Yet even momentary pauses between events can also be opportunities to rest in mindfulness, the peacefulness of just being fully present.

When I am tired, late in the evening, I will often read some fiction, perhaps play a simple game, usually some form of mindless pursuit since I don’t want to become agitated before bed. Yet there is an alternative, to meditate, to rest in mindfulness. I still struggle to make this part of my practice.

I make my living as a psychotherapist. While I am not the traditional silent, occasional uh-huh, analytic presence, the core of my practice is my ability to be present and attentive with the Other. Being mindful, aware of the Other’s expressions and statements, and of my own internal reactions, allows us to explore what comes up in a way different than in most ordinary interactions. I often feel the pressure to do something, fix something for the other. While I am willing to share information that may be useful, my role is not to change or ‘fix’ the Other, that is their choice. I work to help people deepen their awareness of themselves, how they make choices in their lives, and become conscious of options they may not have considered.

Resting in mindfulness, being fully present, is both easy and the opposite of easy. Incorporating it into my meditation practice, continuing to rediscover it in my psychotherapy practice, and bringing it more into my everyday being is both freeing and soul soothing. So easy to say, sometime easy to do, but all too often so easy not to do; after all, being seems as if it is the opposite of doing, and there is always so much to be done!

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3 Responses to Resting in Mindfulness

  1. Robert Kane says:

    I enjoyed reading this Dave, and related to every word. Especially the “being” as opposed to the “doing.” Doing seems so easy, at times it even seems I’m on automatic pilot when doing daily routines and chores. I hardly need to even think about them. What I find hardest about just being is turning off that “little voice” we all have inside our heads – the one that seems to just chatter on and on and on. And it’s often not even chattering about anything significant – what chores do I have to do today, will my amazon package arrive today, I need to check in with mom and see how she’s doing, etc. For me, interestingly enough, the times I seem to be able to be the most at peace and the calmest and able to turn off the constant chatter is when I’m hugging my dog Leo. Everything else just seems to melt away.

  2. As I sometimes understand it the mind (Suzuki Roshi’s little mind) is a construct, an information processing and planning executive function we create to get things done. The trouble is we tend to identify with ‘mind’ as Self. If it has nothing to do, it might disappear, hence so might we. So we keep it busy no matter how trivial the thoughts. Being fully present–in a hug with Leo for instance–there is no need for little mind nor fear of death. We feel one with being or what Suzuki Roshi called Big Mind or universal being.

  3. Allen Klein says:

    Terrific.

    A

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