Mindfulness in motion
The first time I met my second Zen teacher was in his kitchen,14 years ago.
He was peeling potatoes. Being absorbed with what he was doing, he did not notice me.
I watched him for almost 1 min. and was puzzled how slow his movements were.
It was like watching a movie in slow motion.
As physician, my first impression, was a medical one. I said to myself:
Sunim (which means teacher in Korean) is suffering of Parkinson or some other neuro-degenerative diseases.
Soddenly he looked at me and asked: Who are you?
I replied: “ I am Arnaud…….. I talked with you on the phone to become one of your students.
Come to peel potatoes he replied. No hi, no welcome. No social manners.
So I started peeling these veggies.
Silence for ………a long 5 min. Then he said:
Why are you peeling potatoes so fast!. Are you so hungry?
He said: Where is your mind? …….Timidly I replied: Well.. I am here.
No!….Only your body in here.
You are peeling potatoes thoughtlessly like an automate on auto-pilot.
You are not focusing on what your hands and arms are doing because your mind is elsewhere. You are like a decapitated chicken (and he laughed ). Where is your mind?
He was right. My mind was elsewhere, still trapped in the field of neurological diseases!
Then he said: Peel the potatoes at my pace and you will see what is happening next.
So I did….trying to focus on peeling …..slower. It was very challenging and almost boring because I realize that I was forcing my mind to focus on the slow motions of my arms, hands and fingers, and the mind does like boring stuff, preferring to escape in a different and more exiting space-times as he always does.
It was the first time in my life that I realize that my body and mind were one meaning that body and mind were in the same space-time and doing the same thing.
It was my first Zen teaching with him and a great one because Sunim did not even mention the practice of mindfulness per-se on what we are doing, and yet, I was a graduate from Jon Kabat Zinn 2 years training at T.G.H and already a Zen student for 2 years.
Moving back to the Zendo, Sunim served the tea to the students before meditation. 10 cups.
He was pouring tea s..l..o..w..l..y, in full awareness of what he was doing.
It took forever! or seems like it. Again, Sunim was teaching mindfulness in motion.
Then his teaching became more formal. He said:
From the time you wake up to the time you fall asleep, you are doing thousand on movements
automatically, without thinking because of routine. At the same time your the mind is elsewhere doing something else.
Zen calls that: “ day sleep walking” or “headless chicken running around” ( big laugh )
The message from this experience is the following:
Practicing mindfulness is to pay attention, to be aware, to focus on something in order
to anchor our monkey mind to wonder from one branch to the next. There is no analysis,
judgment or decision. Anchoring the mind is the first step to control our thoughts and emotions.
Beside static sitting mindfulness-based meditation, the practice of mindfulness in motion
is a great way to process faster in the quest of mind control.
Being mindful to your steps called walking meditation is important but you can add mindfulness in motion to any of your movements during the day. How to do it?
By slowing them down your moves, you also slow down your mind because you become automatically aware of them. Body and mind are together. Do this mindfulness in motion exercise at regular intervals during the day by picking any automatic movements that you are doing subconsciously. You will experience reality of the moment. Thanks you.