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Meditation and Mindfulness
by Matt Williamson
2007-09-14 09:41:44
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I am not a good practitioner of meditation. My mind races, wild and erratic thoughts pop in and out of my head in rapid and seemingly random procession. Did I feed the cat, why did I say that to her, how long until I calm down, when am I supposed to work in that new project?

Definitely not a good practitioner of meditation.

So, instead I try to be mindful. I try to think about my actions right now. As I drive I try to concentrate on being there, in the car, driving. When I am in a conversation I continually try to remain present there with that person, instead of allowing my mind to drift away and fantasize about dinner or yesterday or what ever my head can dream up.

Mmmm, doughnuts.

I am getting better at being truly mindful too. Case in point: I am finding it easier to stay focused on the little things. Americans, maybe everyone else is too, are too caught up in the 'multi-tasking' fervor. Why? Why is it desirable to do three things at once in a fashion that leads to mediocrity? Why not instead strive to remain present and mindful of the task at hand?

Whether the task is writing a letter of thanks, flying a kite with your children or even sitting beside your loved one and talking about your thoughts about tomorrow; why not be mindful of that experience there and then.

Yes, I do know that meditation is important, and I am working on it. I try almost nightly to find some quiet time and relax. To follow my breath, in and out, not forcing it or even changing it, but just noticing how I breathe.

In, out. Quiet, relax. In, out.

You see the mandalas that the Tibetan Buddhist monks make and you just have to wonder at the skill and memory that is needed for something like that. The one above is the Medicine Buddha Mandala. It shows, among many things, the Medicine Buddha sitting on his Lotus Throne in the heart of the mandala and the Buddha Sakyamuni, the historical Buddha, touching the earth with his mudra pose.

The mandala is made by placing colored sands in a particular order around the design until you get the finished mandala, truly a magical, mystical piece of living art. Can you image the hours that are spent learning the correct order to make even the simplest design? The steady hands that one would need to make a design like this? Then, after it is completed and the prayers are said and the meditations have taken place, it is wiped away. Reminding us all of the imperminance of everything. Our life, our thoughts, our dreams and wishes and everything in the universe. Maybe even the universe itself?

OK, I know I strayed a lot on this post about "Meditation and Mindfulness" - but I didn't sit down to write something brilliant like normal. (That was a joke.) I just wanted to remind you to be mindful. To Be Here Now, as Ram Das said. To meditate and let go.

For now, Kali pai
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