Mindfulness is the practice of opening to and accepting life just as it is, whether we are practicing sitting meditation or cooking dinner. 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 our habits of struggling with the conditions of the moment. Instead of struggling, we practice relaxing into the open space of loving awareness. From this perspective we can begin to open to these habits of the mind and heart and see more clearly the nature of experience. This simple clear seeing is at the heart of mindfulness practice.
Cultivating this tranquil space of awareness is training the attention to return to the present moment over and over again. This training is directed by a spacious and understanding heart that appreciates how difficult it is to remain present. Still, no matter how difficult it appears to be, our practice is to gently return the attention to the breath, the body, the sounds or the quality of the heart/mind in this moment. It is our persistent effort that energizes our practice and leads to tranquility and insight. We use ordinary experience, such as our breath, as a refuge – a place to keep coming back to. This capacity to be present over time becomes a great friend. The ability to abide with the flow of experience creates the context for wisdom to arise. We begin to see our life as it is in a deeply connected, intimate way and learn how to live with greater wisdom, compassion and ease.
Nothing what-so-ever 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
It is a state of peace to be able to accept things as they are. This is to be at home in our own lives. We see that this universe is much too big to hold on to, but it is the perfect size for letting go. Our hearts and minds can become that big, and we can actually let go.
Let the body assume its natural ease. Let the mind assume its natural ease. Now, just stay alert to anything that arises to disturb that natural ease.
— Ajahn Amaro