The Mind’s Attachment to Complexity

Dear Common Ground Friends,

One of the greatest challenges to mindfulness practice is the mind’s attachment to complexity. It is as if the mind has learned to equate simplicity with danger, and mental proliferation as some form of safety. When we look directly, it is obvious that a simple, clear, and relaxed mind is not a risky venture, and that a rushing, reactive mind might very well cause harm.

The Buddha instructed his students to sustain attention with what is simple and ordinary. Much of the lifestyle of monks and nuns was, by design, built upon simple routines as a training ground for mindfulness. Even with our complex lives embedded in a culture that rewards hyperactivity, we can find times to intentionally cultivate a full and clear presence with what is ordinary.

Because of our habits, this may not be easy. Doubt might arise. With practice, we can discover that an open attention to what is ordinary is healing and satisfying.

Awakening and freedom isn’t about having to avoid complex situations. Rather, if we use ordinary experience, such as walking and breathing, as a training ground, we can uncover and develop the skill and insight that allows the mind to be open, clear, and released with all experience – even intense challenging moments. We usually ignore or are irritated by what is ordinary. Let’s instead see these moments as beautiful opportunities for training and releasing.

Wishing everyone a peaceful summer,

Mark Nunberg

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