Why and How We Sit

Why and How We Sit
April 19, 2017
Mark Nunberg

There’s an old saying: “If we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always get what we’ve always got.”

This old proverb helps us understand why a person might want to sit down every day and train the heart. Otherwise, the mind is likely to follow the well-worn path of habit.

Mindful awareness illuminates the nature of the mind. It reveals the causes for stress and the causes for release.

Sitting practice expresses our confidence that we don’t have to repeat the past. Instead, we can be inspired to wake up and to express whatever freedom, wisdom, and compassion is possible.

Releasing Duties and Responsibilities:
Is it OK to put down the world?
Can we feel safe putting down, leaving behind all of our survival conditioning for a period of time?

Connecting with Things As They Are:
Undertake the training to connect and sustain attention with things as they are: non-conceptual knowing.

Can we experience the objects of experience not mediated by language?

We often start by turning the attention toward the sensations of sitting in a direct, inclusive, and fresh way: “Sensations are like this now.”

Acknowledge What Gets in the Way of Continuity of Present-Moment Awareness:
See distraction as a teacher. How is it that the mind gets caught up? Promise that is never kept!

Learn to recognize and even name the hindrances; acknowledge them as natural and impersonal forces in the mind; notice the effect of seeing them clearly.

Strategies for unhooking from seductive patterns.

Acknowledge the Wholesome Qualities of Mind:
Is it possible to become as fluent in recognizing the wholesome qualities (mindfulness, interest, energy, joy, calm, stillness, and equanimity) as we have become with the unskillful forces in the mind?

What happens when the mind clearly acknowledges these wholesome states? What happens when the mind becomes attached to pleasantness of wholesome states?

Notice the emotional healing.

Continuity of Awareness Reveals the Causes for Stress and Its Release:

Wise and continuous awareness wears out habits of:
Stinginess (dana),
Harming (sila),
Distraction (doing),
Attachment (renunciation of form, dispassion with perception and feeling, cessation of doing/intention, and relinquishment of self-framing)

Experiencing simple joy/release of non-attachment, appreciating the path and sharing the merit/blessings

Click here for a related Dharma talk Mark gave at IMS in May called “Understanding the Path”.

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