Week One — Day Two:
AWARENESS IS YOU
LIGHT & SOUND
We are alive.
You are alive.
As the now flows into a new now, each instant being too short to capture, but the flow of our experience in the moment is our life.
If we aren’t present to that flow, we aren’t present to our life.
So often, we loose life in an internal yammer, and an external hurry, an internal worry, and an external moving ourselves around without awareness. And life is going on. There are colors to see. People to appreciate. Our own aliveness to be thrilled about.
Play this game now . . .
I AM ALIVE Game/ Exercise #1:
Hold your breath.
Keep holding as long as you can.
Within this holding see if an awareness sparks in you: I am alive and I need to breathe to stay alive.
This is a fundamental truth, and as the saying goes, “the truth will set us free.”
We are alive.
Without breathing we die.
And breathing is very much like this ongoing, moveable, delicious now. Breathing in leads to a pause or to breathing out. Breathing out leads to a pause or breathing in.
We can direct the breath, and luckily, it flows in and out without us just fine, or we’d die in our sleep.
When we follow our breathing we have a place to put our attention.
Mindful is thrown around a lot, and one way to hone in on it, is to compare it to its opposite: mindless.
WE CAN BE MINDFUL OR MINDLESS.
Mindless is the usual life of inner yammer. Words in our head posing as “thinking”, but instead a mishmash sentences and stories and rehearsals and dramas that have nothing to do with right now. Yammering away.
And usually yammering not about how great life was yesterday, or how great life could be today. No, the usual yammer is: this went wrong, that could go wrong, this person done me wrong, that person “should” blah blah, that person “shouldn’t” blah blah, poor me, I’m so overwhelmed, I’m going to be late, and on and on and on.
And this doesn’t even include stewing over the news, which in this the time of Trump and global warming, can be a bit harrowing.
And where to go to escape this chatter, this inner yammer, this bad news words in the head non-thinking parade?
To the now, to the now, to the now, now, now.
Which is changing, moving.
Being “in the now” is like surfing, the moment is always changing and in a way, it’s thrilling to be right there with it.
Nice treat about this moment now thing: it’s always here. Changing into the next now moment, sure, but so what: this moment is always here and we can experience our lives in the ongoing changing now.
This is the easiest way: Follow your breathing.
It’s the easiest meditation.
Following your breathing is not just a great starter meditation, it’s:
A great way to do the dishes.
A great way to drive.
A great way to listen to music.
A great way to listen to another person.
A great (though quite difficult) way to read. Like now? Sure try.
And . . .
It’s equal to gratitude as a way out of trouble, worry, and inner obsession with all the ways we waste our inner attention.
Awareness Game/ Exercise #2
Sit in meditation, eyes open or closed.
Or stand or take a walk in nature.
Or lay down and let this fall into a nap if you wish.
Or do this at night if you wake up and don’t want to sabotage yourself in the usual way (a bunch of…. “I need to get back to sleep” worry words in your head)
THE GAME: FOLLOW THE SENSATION OF BREATHING IN AND BREATHING OUT. COUNT THE BREATHS UP TO SIX. THEN AGAIN. AND AGAIN.
As you breathe in notice what is shifting and changing in your body and in the flow of air as you breathe in. Relax your body a little more.
As you breathe out, smile, feel what shifts your body makes as you breathe out, feel the air going out and say….One.
Two: As you breathe in notice and sense what is happening to your body and to the air. Relax a bit more.
Breathing out, same: notice and sense your body, feel the air, keep smiling and count…Two.
Three: As you breathe in notice and sense what is happening to your body and to the air. Relax a bit more.
Breathing out, same: notice and sense your body, feel the air, keep smiling and count…Three.
Four: As you breathe in notice and sense what is happening to your body and to the air. Relax a bit more.
Breathing out, same: notice and sense your body, feel the air, keep smiling and count…Four.
Five: As you breathe in notice and sense what is happening to your body and to the air. Relax a bit more.
Breathing out, same: notice and sense your body, feel the air, keep smiling and count…Five
Six: As you breathe in notice and sense what is happening to your body and to the air. Relax a bit more.
Breathing out, same: notice and sense your body, feel the air, keep smiling and count…Six.
Then start over again at one.
If you get lost, so what? Start again at one.
Watch out for and be amused by inner yammer telling your to do better.
And if other yammer wants to come, don’t try to force it away. Instead keep the undercurrent of your attention on the ongoing now of breathing in and breathing out.
This can be VERY ENJOYABLE.
Try this for at least ten minutes. Preferably twice today.
And once is great.
Enjoy whatever length you pick.
Smile extra deeply when you catch yourself having lost the count.
As Einstein said: Show me someone who has never made a mistake and I’ll show you someone who has learned nothing.
And what is you are saying, “The hell. Who has ten minutes?”
And, try this breath counting at other times:
Well, try these two sets of times:
One BETWEEN THINGS.
Carol, my wife whom I met as part of several of the magical tools I’ll be presenting in this book, and I study meditation under an enlightened American Zen teacher of the name Adyashanti. His workshops are fairly large (and amazingly worthwhile) and he tells of his teacher, a woman in her fifties when teaching him, who was raising five children. Her “quiet” time was often walking down the hall between one child’s room and the next.
Two : SLOW DOWN, EXTERNALLY IMPOSED PAUSE TIMES
Like a red light
Like waiting for someone who isn’t ready yet
Or, is late to meet you.
Three: THE SIMPLE TASKS OF LIFE
Putting away groceries.
Easting. (Eating is hard, you might find.)
And best of all: Listening to other people.
Awareness Game/ Exercise Life Transformative Practice #3
While listening to people, restrain your urge to say the wonderful, brilliant thing you are so anxious to say.
Count and follow your breathing while you are listening to them.
How few of us are really present with our friends, our co-workers, people in shops, and most of all . . . our loved ones, children, mate, parents.
Listen and breathe.
Listen and be present.
YOUR PRESENCE IS REALLY THE BEST GIFT YOU CAN GIVE. LOVE IN ACTION. SO SIMPLE. SO UNCOMMON. SO TRANSFORMATIVE
Enjoy the ongoing now.
Enjoy know the truth: you are alive, breathing in and breathing out.
MORE AWARENESS: GRAVITY
Awareness/ Wake Up Game/ Exercise #4:
Take a walk
Either in your house where you can watch out the windows into some nature as you walk
Don’t drive to nature. Just walk and be under the five mile high sky.
Notice your breathing and count to six
Notice gravity and which leg/ foot is pressing down into the Earth
Notice gravity and notice how the Earth is pushing up into one leg/ foot at a time
Enjoy breath plus gravity
Welcome to Life on Earth
MORE AWARENESS: LIGHT AND SOUND
Awareness / Wake Up Game / Exercise #5:
Take a walk
Count your breathing to six as you walk
Notice your feet and legs in gravity
Pay attention to what you are seeing and hearing in the moment
NOTICE THAT EVERYTHING IS CHANGING
BREATH IN/ BREATH OUT
WHICH LEG IS PRESSING INTO AND BEING SUPPORTED BY THE EART
THE SIGHTS AND SOUNDS OF YOUR WORLD
This can be a lot of fun.
And notice what is missing in all of this:
Worry about yesterday
Plans for tomorrow
The usual yammer chatter of words in our head.
This is awake.
This is aware.
This is mindful.
This is you, alive in your life, and enjoying that life, now.
Enjoy your day.