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Right Mindfulness: Savoring the Intimacy of the Present Moment

A lotus bloom unfurls

The 8 spoke dharma wheel represents the eightfold path. Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Concentration and Right Mindfulness

The Noble Eightfold Path is a simplification of the Buddha’s teachings.

We can remember these through the acronym VISA LEM C.

Unfolding: In a world that constantly pulls us in different directions, the practice of Right Mindfulness offers a sanctuary—a space where we can savor the intimacy of the present moment.  Right Mindfulness invites us to awaken to the richness of life unfolding before us.

According to Rupert Mark Lovell Gethin, Professor of Buddhist Studies in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies and co-director of the Centre for Buddhist Studies at the University of Bristol, and (since 2003) president of the Pali Text Society,

“Right Mindfulness is seen as a ‘quality that guards or watches over the mind; the stronger it becomes, the weaker unwholesome states of mind become. [Greed, hate, and delusion.] 

Weakening their power to take over and dominate thought, word, and deed.” 

Thought = (mental actions) Our views lay behind our intentions.

Word = (verbal actions) How we speak and say things can cause ripples. Is it true, kind, and helpful?

Deed = (physical actions) Our actions, livelihood, and effort. My actions are my only True belonging.” teaches Thich Nhat Hanh ‘father of mindfulness’ within the Five Remembrances. 

"I am of the nature to grow old. There is no way to escape growing old.

I am of the nature to have ill health. There is no way to escape ill health.

I am of the nature to die. There is no way to escape death.

All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.

My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground on which I stand."

Cultivating Right Mindfulness: Faced with those, is it any wonder we want to turn, run, or hide? The Five Remembrances capture the impermanence of all things while inviting us to embrace the reality of impermanence and recognize our actions' profound impact on ourselves and the world around us. In the hustle and bustle of modern life, it's easy to lose sight of the present moment and get swept away by worries and distractions. The mind often takes us to the past while in problem-solving or ruminating mode and into the future while in planning or hope mode.

A pendulum swings. Between the past and the future is the still point. The Present moment

By incorporating mindfulness practices into our daily lives, such as meditation, mindful breathing, and mindful movement, we can cultivate a deeper connection to ourselves and the world around us. Mediation provides the space to watch our thoughts and feelings come and go. It cultivates abiding and equanimity. Mindful breathing is the space to connect with the rate at which we breathe, and how it feeds our calm or anxious states. Along with mediation they cultivate peace and tranquillity. Mindful movement allows us to reconnect to our spatial awareness, and to understand where tension is required to build force, where it is not needed, and how to guide it away. In partnership with the other two, we cultivate perseverance and resilience. 

Reigning in our time-traveling:

We can aim to always be present-minded, but that's unachievable. It’s an ideal intent. From the off, it sets us up to fail. 

We can generously cultivate a conscious intention to be aware of what we ARE doing, as often as possible.

Checking in with ourselves frequently offers loving-kindness and the opportunity to discern the next step, we can do this with 3 questions:

Where am I?  - Am I in the past, the present, or the future? Am I wrapped in Ego?

What am I doing?  - What is the task in front of me right now? Does it align with my core beliefs? How do I break it down into smaller manageable moments? Can I ground myself within it? 

How am I doing it? - Tense or relaxed? With aversion or joy? Resistant or abiding? How do I find the task? Pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral.

These questions encourage a patient, compassionate awareness of the impermanence of body, feelings, and mind. Which strangely brings us closer to peace, harmony, and tranquility. This is the purpose of incorporating the sacred pause into our lives.

By cultivating Right Mindfulness, we become more aware of ourselves physically and mentally. We develop an understanding of how these inform the choices we make and their ripple effects. This recurring awakening empowers us to live with greater integrity and compassion.

Remember: Savoring the intimacy of the present moment is not about escaping reality but diving deeply into it, embracing its joys and challenges with an open heart and mind. In Zen circles this is called ‘Beginners Mind’, free from the past’s dispersions, free of our expectations of the future, and free of as much Ego as possible too. Fully present with as many moments as possible, whilst listening to our thoughts and how our body is reacting, but not letting those lead our responses. If we ask ourselves those 3 questions above, we can find joy in pleasant and neutral moments. They help us cultivate an understanding that can be applied to unpleasant moments too. Over time we learn to respond to ourselves and others with generosity, loving-kindness, and discernment.

We allow ourselves and others the time to acknowledge the hook. The time to let reactive feelings and thoughts pass. The time to let bodily tensions dissipate. We can speak and act from truth, kindness, and helpfulness. We can only play our part in bringing harmony to our communities, and support others to do the same. Sometimes this includes doing nothing and staying silent as the discernable best course of action. This is being the calm one in the boat upon the storms of life.

As we embark on this journey of self-discovery and transformation, let us remember that Right Mindfulness is a lifelong practice—an ongoing dance between awareness and acceptance. With each breath, each step, we awaken to the beauty and wonder of life unfolding in all its magnificence.

So, I invite you to take a moment now—to pause, to breathe, to savor the intimacy of the present moment. In this sacred space, may you find solace, clarity, and the profound joy of simply being.

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