Beginning Mindfulness

^z 1st September 2023 at 8:01pm

Another used-book-sale gem: Andrew Weiss's Beginning Mindfulness. It captivates on the second page of the Introduction with, "... the best idea about life is no idea at all." Similarly, at the end of that foreword comes the enchanting advice, "If, after all this introduction, you have an idea of what mindfulness meditation practice is, I encourage you to throw it out the window as the first step on your true path to mindfulness. The Buddha used to say that the teachings of mindfulness are a raft that takes us over the waters from the shore of delusion to the shore of awakening. It would be silly, he reminds us, to worship the raft or to carry it around on dry land."

Then, the encouraging words, "Remember: Go Slowly, Breathe, and Smile!"

What's not to like with that launching pad? So disobey instructions as usual, open the book randomly, and near the end of the chapter for the Fourth Week discover the utterly enchanting:

And now for a surprise:

In four short weeks, you have learned the very basics of mindfulness practice: how to become aware of your breathing, how to follow your breathing and your actions in everyday life, how to become aware of thoughts and feelings when they arise and how to stay present with them, and how to challenge and begin the process of letting go of your most cherished assumptions about yourself and the world. You now have all the basic tools you need to make mindfulness practice the ground of your life.

If you simply practice mindfulness when you are sitting, walking, standing, lying down, eating, cooking, driving, or doing anything else in your life, your life will change. Living with awareness of what you do and the consequences of your actions will alter your life and your relationships with others. If you follow the practice of asking "Who am I?" and "What is this?" about everything and everyone you encounter, even about every thought and feeling you have — in other words, if you go through life without making any assumptions and simply encounter things as they are — your life will change dramatically. When you live with the awareness that questions are more important than answers, that encountering things as they are is more beneficial than just accepting your old stories about them, a huge burden falls by the wayside and you transform your life.

These practices require meticulous attention. They ask us to pay compete attention to what is happening right now, no more or less. They ask that we live in present time without distraction. They will not allow us to settle for what we already know. Are you ready to change your life?

There is much more to learn and experience. In the next section, we begin to explore the world of our own beings in more detail. We begin to cultivate our awareness of body, feelings and sensations, thinking, and the objects of our mind's focus and attention. So if you think you've reached the end, that's just what you think. The reality is different. Let's go on.


(cf. Change Your Life (2002-09-25), How Great Thou Art (2005-03-16), Present-Moment Reality (2008-11-05), Being with Your Breath (2010-02-20), Breath and Awareness (2011-03-12), Beginner's Guide to Insight Meditation (2011-08-05), Core Buddhism (2011-10-17), It's Not What You're Thinking (2013-08-17), You Must Change Your Life (2019-02-01), ...) - ^z - 2013-09-22

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