The Wings of Mindful Meditation
There are lots of lists to keep track of when one begins exploring Buddhist practices. I love it when teachers condense these lists into one or two clear points. Here are the two I find most helpful:
Cling to nothing as Me or Mine.
Mindful Meditation is uplifted by the wings of Compassion and Wisdom.
That kind of boils it down to three things, no clinging, wisdom and compassion. Cool. I want to focus on just the last two, the Wings of Mindfulness. I love birds, but have yet to see one with three wings. Two works. Here we go.
First of all, Mindful Meditation. The word for Mindfulness in the Pali language spoken by Siddhartha Gautama (The Buddha) is Sati. One of the major collections of teachings is focused on Sati. Without going into all the details, there are five focuses for Sati: mindfulness of the breath, mindfulness of the body, mindfulness of feeling tone, mindfulness of the heart/mind and mindfulness of things as they are. And to get at these five skillfully one needs…
…Wisdom and Compassion…
At almost sixty nine years of age I have acquired a certain amount of natural/life wisdom, through experience, training and various facets of learning. I have always been a fairly kind person (Metta) and that has enabled compassion to grow in my heart/mind and in my actions. My dual professions of teaching and pastoring have leaned heavily on these two qualities of Wisdom and Compassion.
How do these life qualities support mindful meditation?
Mindfulness is basically a fusion of curious awareness and grace. My therapist used the phrase, “compassionate curiosity”. Awareness becomes useful when it is edged with thoughtful interest.
“Pain in the shoulder is being known.” Huh?! How am I dealing with the pain? Are there any other bits of the body that are reacting to that pain? Am I trying to contract my body to avoid the pain? Am I creating a ‘narrative’ story around the pain or just dealing with it as a physical phenomenon? Is there blame? Fear? Dread? This is all wise awareness. I am learning about pain.
Now, can I sit with it? This is where Compassion enters the picture.
I care about what is arising in the body; I’m not an insensate robot. I bath the shoulder with loving attention, breathing into the pain. No lectures. No plans to fix it. Just pure compassion.
If you have been following this blog at all you know that I am part of a 12-Step program called Adult Children of Alcoholic/Dysfunctional Families, and that what I am describing vis a vis Mindful Meditation sounds an awful lot like healthy reparenting of the Inner Child by an Inner Loving Parent.
This is what I love about ACA and what has been so helpful to me as I have grown in my understanding of Buddhism and Mindful Meditation. The two reinforce each other at nearly every turn.
Two wings of Mindful Awareness. An Inner Child and an Inner Loving Parent working in harmony to lift the True Self on wings of courage, hope and clarity.
I shared some of this with my therapist the other day. It captured where I want to be, and where I am finding myself…and I love birds! Namaste.
PS If you have read this and are saying to yourself that the Satipatthana Sutta just notes Four Foundations of Mindfulness…you are correct. Mindfulness of the breath is part of the first foundation, mindfulness of the body. Most teachers begin with the breath as an anchor for mindfulness, almost giving it its own place in this Sutta.