#344 The sunshine od awareness Apr.25 21

The sunlight of awareness

Is there a difference between consciousness and awareness?

All experts consider the words as synonyms meaning: knowledge or perception of a situation or fact.

Therefore, we should not try to differentiate the words to avoid being trapped in an non-productive sematic trap.

When we go outside, and thru our 5 senses, we have the knowledge and perception of our surroundings but does it mean that we pay attention to them all the time.

Also, being aware about a friend being sick does it mean that you pay attention to her/his condition all the time?

We aware of this and that but w/o paying attention because our mind is too busy thinking about zillions of other things rather than being actively aware of our surroundings or to any other situations events or people.

In Zen, awareness carries a more specific meaning:

It implies being actively aware, to focus or to pay attention consciously on something or someone in a mindful way that is w/o judgment and w/o decision.

When you say to a kid “Pay attention to what I say”, the kid stops what she/he is doing and listen.

The kid is practicing awareness on what to do and will stop her/his current wandering activity.

This is exactly what we are doing during meditation:

A double awareness:

  1) Of our breathing in order to anchor and slow down our wandering mind.

  2) Of our mind itself busy in producing thoughts and feelings.

Meditating is observing the changes that take place in your mind under the light of awareness

while focusing on breathing as anchor to slow it down.

When our wandering mind slows down or even stops running, thoughts /feelings become manageable almost one by one.

Bringing the light of our awareness on every thought and feeling, allowing us to recognize them, accept them without judging or trying to stop them.

They will go the same way they popped-up. Don’t resist.

To meditate does not mean to fight with our mind. Meditation is not a battlefield with you against your restless mind. If you try to fight, you will loose all the time and become frustrated with your meditation practice.

Here is another aspect to consider:

When we are under the control of our mind we are an object

To meditate means the opposite, you become the observer rather than the object of our runaway and restless mind.

Why the opposite you may ask.

Simply because when you observe x, you cannot be x at the same time!

Paying attention by focusing then observing is awareness in its most conscious and active form.

This is why we called it sunlight awareness.

Without the proper use to observe our mind during meditation and even during the day, it will remain in control of you all the time.

Thank you.

#343 Meditation: When the mind observing itself Apr 17 21

The root of the word meditation came from the Latin meditatio meaning, “To analyze”.

This is the intellectual definition of meditation.

There is another definition of meditation, less, analytic, less judgmental and more spiritual.

This non- analytic view of meditation is founded in all spiritual practices and, above all, in the Oriental ones      such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism.

During these spiritual practices, to meditate is to be aware, to pay attention, to observe, to reflect intensively on something without any analytic, judgmental and decisional actions. It is called to be mindful.

In other words, mindfulness meditation includes 3 repetitive processes:

  1. Forcing the mind to anchor on something such as our breathing in a mindful way and, at the same time,
  2. Observing how the mind is escaping from it, usually by wandering, almost non-stop.
  3. Then, after observing a thought or feeling, going back to the anchor.

Meditating is going back and forth from breathing then observing our mind wandering then focusing back again on our anchor.

Meditation is being mindful to our thoughts – that is mind observing itself- or, better said, consciousness.

Learning our mind observing itself is a critical skill to be aware of our emotions and deal with them.

Thoughts and emotions arise and disappear continuously (estimated at around 110,000 /day!).

They are generated by bioelectrical current running trough 1,000 trillions of neuron’s connections of our brain-mind. Yet, they have tremendous power on our emotional state and quality of life.

Like electricity, they are immaterial and without any material and concrete features beside their neuro-imaging identity and yet they control our emotional state and quality of life.

Positive or negative, thoughts are only mental and immaterial products.  

Are they the biological expression or incarnation of what many call Universal Consciousness? Maybe.

How focusing on my breathing will help me to control my thoughts and emotions?

Despite its enormous thinking power, our brain-mind cannot manage more than one thought at a time.

Like a computer, it is processing one or zero similar to the binary system.

Because the brain-mind cannot focus on 2 targets at the same time, focusing on one target

 – such as breathing – is a powerful tool in learning to control the flow of our thoughts and be able to observe them almost one by one, like watching a movie frame-by-frame.

So, the main purpose of meditation is not to block our thinking or get a clear mind or to empty it; it is impossible.

Rather it is to observe it and to understand that thoughts /feelings come and go spontaneously and endlessly, just like words written with a finger on water.  

This spontaneous “In-Out” thought activity is important to understand because we are using it during meditation and during the day.

Meditation is a mental mirror since, while meditating, our mind is aware and observes itself.

By learning to observe it, you will be able to control it including its negative feelings.

This is the path to serenity

Thank you,

#342 Perception vs. Reality. Role of acceptance Ap. 10th

       Perception vs reality: role of acceptance

Probably the hardest challenge in life is accepting how things, events and people are in reality and not how we perceive or want them to be. Perceptions are just that: not necessary based on fact, not necessary right or wrong.

Many brakes are blocking our way to accept life and its content as factual reality.

Let me name the most powerful ones:

Our expectation, culture, beliefs, ideas, education, experience, emotion, and sensorial stimuli.

All of them are very effective on their own because they can be subconscious and controlled by our

dominant ego. They are creating mind-set, labels, hope and surprises.

The results of the combined actions of these multitude brakes is how we see, experience and feel our surrounding world are called perceptions that is impressions or viewpoint.

These automatic perceptions can induce suffering from its 3 main sources: desire, hatred and ignorance. One should add: not getting what we want, getting what we don’t want, regretting the past and worries of the future.

Our perception about almost anything creates strong preferences for how things should be or should not be

When we believe things should be one way and they are not, we tend subconsciousl to bend reality to make them fit within our perception.

At this point perception becomes fictional perception.

Don’t take me wrong:

It is perfectly fine to perceive and have opinion about “a” and “b” or make decision about “c” and “d”. In fact, we have to do these exercises all the time and people are expecting you to do so.

Also, it is perfectly fine as long as our perception is matching reality,…. but how often it does?

The problem rises when our perception of events, people and things does not reflect reality or are wrong. It is like looking at the reflection of an object on a distorted mirror.

During this scenario, Zen practice is advising the following approach:

1)  Be aware of your current perception………which is not easy.

2)  Does your perception reflecting factual reality or just an unproven assumption?

   “ I am currently perceiving this or that: is it reflecting genuine reality of the moment or is it

     reflecting a mind-made fictional thought ?” Ex: a thought does exists but is not real.

3) Being right or wrong, do these realities or fictional thoughts are causing me suffering?

4) If so, acceptance of your suffering is key before dealing efficiently with the situation.

     Negative feelings may/will stay forever in the mind unless we accept them. 

    Practicing acceptance helps us counteract our ability to unconsciously skew our perceptions

    as we try to make the world fit our beliefs and desires.

Final words:

It is important to learn to be aware of our perceptions then to assess them such as:

    Are they based on factual reality or just unproven or just fiction from our mind?

    Are they right or wrong?

If our perceptions are causing suffering, acceptance of our suffering, rather than fight it, is key.

The objects of our perceptions and whether or not to accept or fight them should come only after.

Having an open mind called “don’t know mind” in Zen makes it easier to deal with our perceptions and their effects rather than having a mindset on everything and everybody which often induces negatives feelings.

Thank you

#341 Breathing: experiencing the reality of the moment Ap.4th 21

Breathing: experiencing reality of the moment

We are breathing around x20,000 every day. This automatic vital function is subconscious and the trigger reflex is controlled by the CO2 in the brain.

Why breathing is considered so important in the practice of meditation in general, mindfulness,  mindfulness-based meditation in particular, and many other techniques of relaxation?

There are many reasons:

1) Practical reasons:

     – 1 We carry our breathing 24/7 making it available anytime.

     -2 Breathing is the only vital function of our body that we can control in amplitude and frequency.

2) As far Zen and other Oriental practices are concerned:

Focusing consciously and in a mindful way on breathing is a paramount skill to achieve as part of our spiritual journey towards better mind control, serenity and Awakening. Why that?

First:

We learn to focus on our body and what it is doing. We never do that unless medical conditions.

How often are you thinking about your hands?….and yet, our body and what it is doing is an obvious example of concrete reality. Isn’t!

Second:

Because being aware of our breathing is a perfect example to experience consciously the concrete reality of the present moment. It is only during this “NOW” that genuine non-fictional reality exists.

Past, future and their related thoughts and feelings do exist but they are the fruits of our mind-made fictional world.

Here is an example of concrete reality vs fictional one:

When you look, touch and smell an orange, you are experiencing the concrete reality of this fruit.

But if you do the same exercise mentally your are in the virtual, fictional, imaginative world of your mind even if your mental process does exist.

The only way to escape from our fictional mind traps, at least temporally, is to reconnect to our present reality of the moment and focusing on breathing is a wonderful tool to achieve it.

When and how to focus to our breathing in a mindful way?

1)During formal sitting meditation.

    By paying attention to your normal breathing as it is w/o controlling it and w/o analytic

    nor decision. This is the definition of mindfulness.

    By doing so, we anchor our restless mind as long as possible.

    Counting each breath after each exhale from 1 to 10 then back to 0 is a useful trick.

    When the mind is taking over- it always does- accept the pop-up thoughts, press the reset button and go back to the anchor. You are experiencing the reality of the moment, that is Awakening.

2)During the day:

    When looking for calmness or break away from being on autopilot, we can click on the pause button called breathing.

    Hold on your activities if you can, sit straight and take 5 to 10 controlled breaths with slower exhale.

    It has been proven scientifically that mindful and slow exhale done properly reduces tension and stress.

    Once-a-while move away from your autopilot behavior and daydreaming and experience

    the reality of the moment by practicing, on the go, mindful breathing.

    It  will not bring you ecstasy or even happiness but, at least, it will force our restless mind

     to be less talkative, at least for a short period of time.

Thank you.