What is mindful awareness practice?
by Mark Nunberg, Guiding Teacher
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 in the moment. This simple, clear knowing 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.
“A bhikkhu (practitioner) who has heard that nothing is worth clinging to as me, I, or mine, they directly know all things.”
— The Buddha (MN 37)
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
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