The Healing Power of Mindfulness P4

Daniel Vinograd

 

 

Even if there’s something going on, even if you’re in pain from your lower back and you’ve had it for a long time, or even if you have cancer at the moment, or you’re a cancer survivor, or you have heart issues of one kind or another, whatever it is… the sum total of this universe of between 10 and 100 trillion cells – the whole body now, we’re talking about – is good enough to have gotten you here today. It’s good enough for now.

 

And the more energy you pour into it, the more that robustness, whatever it is, sometimes called homeostasis, but it’s a very dynamical process that we call ELF, as opposed to disease, or dis-ease. When we start to pour energy in the form of attention into what’s already right with us, it turns out that the body has its ear to the rail, the brain has its ear to the rail, the brain is part of the rail, the heart… every aspect of our being is one integrated whole. It’s not like different systems. The immune system talks to the nervous system; the nervous system talks right back, and everybody else is listening in on the conversation. And it’s all cells.

 

If we all took our livers and put them out on the stage here – that would be an interesting exercise – and then we shuffled them around, and then you were all encouraged to just pick yours up on the way out, you wouldn’t know which was yours. You can look at all 100 trillion of these cells in your body, and your name isn’t on any of it. It’s like “Oh, here’s my liver. Here’s my gallbladder.”

 

The punctuation from the cell phones is actually really – if that was a cell phone – is really interesting.

 

But do you hear what I’m saying? Even the question of who we are, when you start to actually ask it with tremendous authenticity, it might not be so facile to just say your name, or even describe what you do, or even send in your CV. If you’ve ever hired people, you know the CV is not the person, and you hire the CV a lot of the time. Big mistake. Because you can’t work with the person a lot of the time. What you want is congruence. You want integration. So when we take our seat, so to speak, what we’re actually engaging in is a recognition of how integrated we already are. We don’t need to “Oh, I’m such a wreck; I’ve got to get integrated.” No. From this perspective, you’re already as integrated as you can be in this moment. Is it enough? Is it good enough?

 

Let’s actually take a moment. I’ve even brought another prop; I brought some bells. We don’t need the bells, but I’ll ring them. When I ring them – and just for fun, you don’t have to shift your posture, but just for fun, why don’t you shift your posture and sit in the posture that for now embodies dignity, whatever that means for you? Look, the entire room is moving. (laughter) Not that dignified, I guess.

 

But actually, it doesn’t matter. The posture is secondary. What’s most important is the inner orientation, the willingness to open to the present moment, to put out the welcome mat and to let the idea that “Now we’re going to do something special” drop. Because as soon as you plant that seed, “now we’re going to do something special and we’re going to experience something special,” then you’ll be on the lookout for something special. But you see, nothing special.

 

There’s a wonderful cartoon in the New Yorker that I actually mentioned a long time ago in Wherever You Go, There You Are. Two Zen monks, one obviously elder, the other young. The young one’s looking up quizzically at the older one, and the caption underneath – the older one is speaking – he’s saying, “Nothing happens next. This is it. I just said that to you earlier.” But the “this is it” is really important.

 

Otherwise you could spend 20 or 30 years or more – and people do this – meditating, trying to get someplace else. Trying to have some special experience and say “That’s what it’s all about. Now I’m enlightened.” The problem is, you’re already enlightened; but the personal pronoun that wants to grab it and say “I’m enlightened” – it’s the personal pronoun that’s the problem, not the enlightenment.

 

Your eyes are already enlightened, your ears are already enlightened, your belly is already enlightened, your feet actually do what they’re supposed to do, for the most part. Your brain is actually doing what it’s supposed to do, your liver is doing what it’s supposed to do. A very famous scientist and physician named Louis Thomas once said he’d rather be at the controls of a 747 trying to land with no pilot training whatsoever than at the controls of his own liver for 30 seconds. So you don’t need to find special. This is good enough.

 

Let’s actually sit for a moment, if you’re sitting, or stand if you’re standing, in a position that for you, at this moment, embodies wakefulness and dignity. You don’t even have to close your eyes, but you can if you like, or let them fall unfocused on the chair in front of you or whatever. As I ring the bells, seeing if you can just follow the sound of the bells into the space of the air. (rings bell three times)

 

Allowing the space of the air to be coextensive with the space, you could call it, of awareness, so that there’s simply awareness. Hearing what’s here to be heard. The sound of the bells are past, and now there’s just sound. Whatever is arising.

 

You could feature hearing as a way of anchoring our attention. You can focus on some object or field of objects like hearing, and just rest in being aware of sounds and the stillness and the silence, in between, inside, and underneath any and all sounds. Including, of course, my voice.

 

Alternatively, because there’s more than one thing going on – there’s not just hearing going on; there’s also seeing and smelling and all the senses are actually operating – seeing if you can actually instead of hearing, feature for now feeling a sense of the breath moving in and out of your body. Wherever it’s most vivid in the body. Allowing awareness to inhabit the whole of the body and be most vivid in the region whether the breath sensations are arising and passing away. In breath… out breath.

 

Seeing if you can ride on the waves of the breath with full awareness, moment by moment. Noticing any time the mind goes off and gets involved in anything else, including judging how stupid this is. “We came for a talk, and all of a sudden we’re doing this stupid exercise.” Or whatever is flitting through the mind at the moment. Just making it so spacious that you can see whatever’s unfolding, hear my guidance as I’m speaking, and at the same time ride on the wave of the breath going in and the breath going out.

 

With full awareness and a kind of interest, a kind of in some sense affection at attention. Even if the breath isn’t all that interesting to you, or all that boring, or your mind says “Okay, I get that concept. What else?” Just staying with the breath.

 

Then playing with the possibility of expanding the field of awareness around the breath, wherever you’re experiencing it most in the body, until it includes a sense of the body as a whole, sitting here or standing here breathing. Noticing you can do that just easy as pie. It’s not really a doing, but when I say it, easily the awareness can hold the whole body, to one degree or another. Whatever degree you can hold it, that’s fine. It’s not like, “Oh, if I practiced, I’d get better at this.” That’s just the thought. Never mind. Just letting your thoughts come and go, and staying with the awareness of the body as a whole, sitting and breathing.

 

If possible, remembering that this isn’t some simple little exercise that were doing in the middle of a talk. That this is your life unfolding in this very moment, and this breath is important to you. You wouldn’t want to do without it. With that kind of quality of attending – it’s like tuning a guitar string – too loose, no true tone; too tight, no true tone; but if you can just bring the lightest of touches of awareness to the sense of the body as a whole, breathing, as if it mattered. And of course, it does. Because it’s your body in this moment, it’s your life, and the breath is vital.

 

One more, before we end. Noticing any thoughts that may be moving through your mind, and noticing how easy it is to self-distract, that the mind does wander, and it wanders away from the breath. If we did this for any period of time, sooner or later your mind would be someplace else. Probably not even in the room. Maybe not even in the present moment. You could be having dinner in Paris or Bangkok, or in an argument three years ago in the shower with yourself.

 

When you notice the mind has self-distracted, no problem, no judging; or if you judge it, don’t judge the judging, and just see if you can come back to this moment in awareness. Featuring whatever object of attention you care to. It could be anything that’s in the field of awareness.

 

But the last little piece is to just underscore that none of this is about the sound of the bells; none of this is about the feeling of the breath in the body; none of this is about the thoughts moving through the mind. Those are all important and they’re secondary, but what it’s really about is the awareness that knows the sound when it comes to the ears, that knows – and I mean non-conceptually knows, not just conceptually – knows the feeling of the breath moving in the body. Non-conceptually, it inhabits the body as a whole in awareness, sitting and breathing.

 

Non-conceptually knows when the mind self-distracts or when we get into an emotional whirlpool or turbulence of some kind or another. The awareness can just allow it to just be here. Feature it, center stage, let it come, let it go. Meanwhile, we just continue to rest. To rest in awareness, outside of time, because the present moment is time-less in some profound way.

 

Awareness and silence and stillness are all different ways of saying the same thing. They’re pointing to something that’s already yours, that you don’t have to get, but has tremendous healing potential. Tremendous potential for learning, for seeing things in new ways, for that rotation in consciousness that I was speaking of. Everything’s the same, only nothing’s the same. Why? Because you showed up in your fullness.
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Dr. Daniel Vinograd, DDS |
10450 Friars Rd, San Diego, CA 92120 |
Phone: 619-630-7174    •    Dr. Vinograd, DDS, is a Dentist in San Diego, CA, offering services as a periodontist, and providing teeth whitening, dental crowns, invisalign, implants, lumineers, dentures, root canals, holistic, family and cosmetic dentistry.


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