May – August 2017
Mark’s Guiding Teacher Letter:
Mindfulness is the practice of opening to and understanding the moment just as it is, whether we are practicing sitting meditation, cooking dinner, or advocating for justice. To begin we make the necessary effort to calm the mind and heart. Without this first step our intention to be present is often overwhelmed by the mind’s habits to struggle with conditions. Instead of struggling, we practice trusting the mind’s capacity to be relaxed, clear, intimate, and willing to feel how it is. This simple, clear seeing is at the heart of mindfulness practice.
Mindfulness is all about cultivating a continuous present-moment awareness. We train in persistence, a willingness to begin over and over again. This training is overseen by the wise and kind heart that appreciates how difficult it is to remain present. Still, no matter how difficult it appears to be, our practice is to gently and persistently return to the simple truth, “This is being known.” Awareness is already available and knowing; the practice is to simply and clearly recognize, “This is being known.” Many people develop whole-body awareness, a direct, non-conceptual knowing of sensation, as a means for developing momentum in their practice. Daily sitting practice and an effort to be present throughout the day are causes for greater joy, tranquility, and insight. This capacity to be present is our wise friend, protector, and guide – this is how we live with greater wisdom, compassion, and ease.
“Nothing whatsoever is to be clung to as I or mine. To have heard this phrase is to have heard all the teachings, to have practiced this is to have practiced all the teachings, and to have understood this is to have understood all that needs to be understood.”
— The Buddha