Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Buddha's Path to Awakening (Part 3)

Mindfulness Matters: Tools for Living Now
Dr. Arnie Kozak (

Another distraction that might arise is feelings of impatience, restlessness, or boredom. Typically, this happens when the mind projects itself into the future or tries to make this practice into something other than this simple looking at the breath.

You can acknowledge these feelings, without buying into their stories. They are concepts and hold no necessary power other than the power we invest in them.

In response to impatience, restlessness, and boredom, and to take their power away, you can give yourself permission to be with the breath, and return to the present without needing to make this moment anything more than it actually it is. You can investigate whatever arises during practice with interest and gentle curiosity.

BS07004.jpgCome back to this moment as it unfolds. You are learning about your mind and how it works, the sensations, thoughts, feelings, and images that emerge, and how there is a tendency to move away from the present moment.

In response, give yourself permission not to get frustrated or discouraged. Frustration or berating yourself for not being concentrated is just another story to come back from.

Keep coming back to the feelings of the breath. That's the practice! And if you can do this in a matter of fact way, you'll be moving into mindfulness. The goal here is to practice, to sit with yourself rather than produce a certain "outcome."

It's the process that's important and not the destination. There is no destination; it's a journey to become intimate with your lived experience in this moment and then the next.

Remember that awareness of breathing can happen at any time, not just when you sit down to meditate. Throughout the day, many times a day, you can try to remember yourself in this way. You can touch the breath, bringing awareness to a few cycles of the breath as you are hurrying through the day or coping with something stressful.

You can bring yourself into the now by giving your attention to the breath. More>>

The Buddha vowed not to get up until he was fully awakened and became buddho ("awake"). This process is explained in the Satipatthana Sutta or the "Discourse on the Awakening of Mindfulness" A beautiful explanation of this discourse can be found in Larry Rosenberg's Shambhala Classic: Breath By Breath: The Liberating Process of Insight Meditation. For more information and audio sample, visit Exquisite Mind.

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Arnold Kozak, Ph.D., is a mindfulness-based psychotherapist, author, and speaker; clinical instructor Departments of Psychiatry and Medicine, University of Vermont College of Medicine.

"108 sparkling insights into mindfulness" -- Larry Rosenberg, author of Breath by Breath
"Playful, wise, and memorable" -- Tara Brach, author of Radical Acceptance
"Fresh and straightforward voice"-- Shambhala Sun Magazine

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