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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mindful Practice 13

Mindfulness is a practice.  And awareness is an experience.  It's kind of like putting a jigsaw puzzle together.  The pieces of the puzzle represent bits of mindful practices and once the puzzle is put together you have the big picture - an experience of total awareness.

Practicing mindfulness in various situations develops a larger, wider, and deeper consciousness.  For example, start out practicing being mindful while walking, and then mindful biking, and then mindful eating, and on and on. Eventually the practice comes together as one mindful life.

All the practices up to this point have focused on single exercises.  Now it's time to begin fitting the pieces together into the big picture.

 If you have been practicing mindfulness in many aspects of your life you are probably ready to take the next big step - becoming aware of being mindful.  For example, let's say you are doing yoga and you are mindful of your posture, your breathing, the stretch in your hamstring and groin, energy flowing through your body, the light in the room, the sounds next door, and sweat beading up on your forehead.  With all of that going on, you can step back into your consciousness and observe the one who is being mindful.  This is a different and larger consciousness experience than being mindful of many different events.

It should be said, however, that it is almost impossible to be aware of mindfulness in a situation like doing yoga because of the varied number of experiences happening simultaneously.  In the beginning it is easier to be aware of being mindful in less complicated situations. For instance, you can be aware of being mindful of your breathing. However, it is not advisable to try being aware of being mindful while driving or other situations that could put you in danger.  It's best to start out slow and take simple tasks.

For your first aware of mindful experience sit in a chair and focus on an object like a picture, a vase, another person - something that is not moving.  As you focus on the object allow mindfulness to widen.  Notice the feelings in your body, your breathing, your buttocks in the chair, feet on the floor, and so on.  Continue to widen your mindfulness to light in the room, sounds, and any smells that may be present and thoughts you may be having.  Sit for a minute in this "bubble of mindfulness."

Soften your gaze and relax your breathing.  And then ask the question, "who is mindful?"   This is the key question to unlocking awareness.  Visualize awareness expanding out into the universe.  Notice the feeling of your presence sitting in the chair being mindful of objects and feelings. You are now aware of being mindful - a totally new and consciousness expanding experience.

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