I'm thinking more and more about how mindfulness practice is about relationship. About relationship to our own thinking and emotions. About relationship with each other. Habits of relationship are so powerful and automatic that we hardly notice them, taking for granted that things are just that way. But are they really? Always?
Consider how you relate to tasks, to time, to memory, to the whole show. What motivates us? What drives us? There are no easy answers to any of this but our regular mindfulness practice can shed some light. Our practice can help us to pause and consider. Is this situation or person or tendency really always that way? Really automatic? Or are things more flexible and changing?
Lately I've been especially enjoying my morning meditation practice because a friend comes over to the little meditation hut I've built in the back yard. Practicing on my own there's often a little resistance (or a lot) but when my friend comes over there's none at all. It's just time to practice. We sit together and there's a groundedness and a peacefulness I can feel. And I can feel this even if the mind is agitated or tired or jumpy. And especially when the mind is quiet. One morning in Spring when it was raining comes to my mind now. The sound of the rain, the feeling of the breathing, the support of my friend's presence.
I've been hearing lately from many of you that you too are seeking out friends to practice mindfulness with. To sit together. To do the gentle mindful yoga together. Perhaps a reading or a poem or a conversation about how it's going that's supported by the practice to be a little more real. That's really wonderful.
Practice also helps me see how self-focused the mind can be. I know that my friend's arrival at 7am each morning for practice helps me get me out the door and onto the cushion. But it's hard for me actually feel and understand that it helps him too! Of course I know this in a kind of intellectual way and we thank each other periodically for the friendship and the mutual support. But the real feeling of this two-way support is only available to my mind if I slow down enough to drop into it. To feel it.
It's surprising how rarely we feel the reality of how much we help each other in everything we do. We can be so wrapped up in "how is this for me" that we miss the radical interconnection and relating that's happening all the time. But when we do it usually feels so good. Our lives feel more real. More alive. Brighter.
Which reminds me of a quotation from the Chinese Buddhist teacher Sheng-Yen I saw recently.
When we share our light with others, we do not diminish our own light. Rather, we increase the amount of light available to all. Therefore, when others light our candle, we issue forth light. When out of gratitude we useour candle to light other people’s candles, the whole room gets brighter.
May we all be real together and share the light of that real-ness.
Executive Director, Mindfulness Northwest