Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Principle 1: Be Present Be Still

Mindfulness is an intentional and curious directing of attention to our experience as it unfolds in the present moment, one moment following the next -- the very happening of our experience as it is happening without commentary, judgment, or storytelling. This is my rendition of a definition for mindfulness.

I asked the group: "What happens when we get quiet? To what extent do we bring stillness and silence into our lives? How much of our time is devoted towards incessant doing? How much of our awareness is accompanied by an active and nettlesome internal dialogue?" This workshop time is an opportunity to experience stillness and silence in our being, to reacquaint ourselves or to delve in for the first time to explore what we find residing behind all the talk and storytelling.
William Butler Yeats said on this point “We can make our minds so like still water that beings gather about us, that they may see their own images, and so live for a moment with a clear, perhaps even with a fiercer, life because of our quiet.”

I asked the group at Brattleboro if anyone knew something of T.S. Eliot's biography, and whether he had had any meditation experience. One participant noted that he had and mentioned the closing line of the "The Wasteland" which are "Shantih shantih shantih." Shantih translates from Sanskrit as peace. I asked this question because of an excerpt from the Four Quartets that I shared that suggests Eliot understood mindfulness if not explicitly, then implicitly. He said:

I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always –
A condition of complete simplicity
(costing not less than everything)

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