Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Back to Basics Again
There is a constant cascade of words, feelings, sensations, ideas, memories and sounds. I could be watching a student breathing, or riding on a subway, or drifting in and out of sleep and this would still be so. Somehow there are ways to narrow the focus of attention and at the same time open up levels of awareness. It turns out that it never works to try to shut all this down, turn it off, ignore it, block it out. The only thing that works is to open awareness even wider so that, in some way, all this billowing, thrashing, distracting material becomes just a very small bit in a much much more vast expanse.
Sounds unbelievable even to me, and yet, if the breath is the raft and my attention is floating on that, everything else is just part of the ocean.
So sometimes the swells are noticeable, or a wave crashes in and totally pulls me away from the breath. The funny thing is that it doesn't matter at all, because I can smile at this (or not even react beyond noticing that it happened) and turn my attention right back to my breath. Not getting sucked into judging the situation, or hanging on to the idea or the feeling that splashed onto my raft and caught my attention, I lose nothing.
Who is measuring how many times I climb back onto my breath-raft? Who is laughing at the object that managed to pull me off? Just me, all me, not me at all. There is a swirl of energy around my breath that contains everything -- that which will distract me and that which grounds me. The ability to focus my attention gradually gets stronger, more able, more adaptable to the movements of words, feelings, sensations, reactions in general and conditions in particular.
So I come back to the most basic practice again and again: simplify, experience, abide. And it is the breath that takes me, follows me, holds me, sends me, returns me and enables me to play this game at all of observing and being my self.