In the early morning at Deer Park we start our day in silence and take our time to walk to our meditation hall for sitting meditation. When we sit down, comfortably, relaxed and upright on a cushion or chair, we bring our kind awareness to the natural flow of our in and out breath. We come back to the physical sensation of our breathing and keep coming back once we get distracted. This is a great way to start the day, to center and ground ourselves, ready for a new day.
If you do not have a daily meditation practice yet, gently but deliberately try to incorporate at least 5 minutes of silent sitting in the morning or evening. As you feel comfortable increase the length of your sit. It will change your life, for the healthier and happier. You can also bring the practice of mindful breathing into your daily life, close your eyes and follow your breathing as you start your computer in the morning, enjoy your breath – allowing your body to relax when you stop at a red light. A friend expressed it as if he is trying to steal moments throughout the day. Stealing moments from our habit energy of cruising along without really knowing where we are going, in order to come back to the breath and the present moment.
Our daily cultivation of mindfulness will help us be more aware of our actions and our interconnection to the world around us. We know that our planet and it’s whole ecosystem undergoing great hardship. All the facts of pollution, deforestation, natural disasters, famine and war etc can be difficult, impossible, to face if we are not able to come back to ourselves. The energy of mindfulness help us recognize what is going on, we can be aware of our stress, our fear and despair and learn to calm it down. When we are calm and focused, we can look into how we can act in our daily lives in order to support the planet.
The first point our teacher encourage us is to consume less. Let’s look at a couple of concrete practices for this:
- before buying anything, take three breaths and check in with yourself “do I need this, do I really need this”?
- what is pushing us to buy things we don’t really need?
- wasted resources is a huge problem, reflect on how you can reduce the trash and waste you contribute to: say no to one time use bottles or cups; use all the food that you buy or compost; recycle and donate to good will organization what you don’t need
It’s too late to judge, criticize or drown in despair. With mindfulness we can recognize how we feel and how we act, cultivating the capacity of non-judgement. If we are to be able to care for the planet and all being, we have to know how to care for ourselves.
Look at yourself in the mirror and smile. Wake up to the fact that you are a miracle of life!