Rhythms, breaths, days and nights, seasons, wake and sleep, cycles of emotions, life and death...
We are connected with each other in the natural rhythms of life. We are inherently balanced.
Life energy is chaotic and unpredictable at times. Our habits are like the structure, the form that we create in our life to cope with uncertainty, to feel good enough to ride with the waves.
We develop our habits beginning at a young age: wash hands before meals; take a shower every day; so on and so forth. In that sense, there’s nothing good or bad about habits. But some habits will get us hooked, deeper and deeper, until our whole beings are completely dependent on them. They suck every bit of life force out of us. Drug addiction is an example of that. On the other hand, some habits celebrate our beings. They refine our intellect and awareness. They cultivate our spirits and nurture our souls.
Mindfulness meditation is called "shamatha" in Tibetan. It means, "to get familiar with." It has three elements: familiarity, not forgetting, and not moving. It is about forming new habit for our mind so that we are not controlled by our old patterns, our afflictive emotions such as anger, greed and jealousy.
Our mind is normally chaotic and scattered. We easily get distracted and we get hooked with emotions, behavioural patterns, pleasure and comforts. Addiction manifests in everyone's life to a certain extent, in different ways. Mindfulness practice is a way to rewire our neurological pathways and to retrain our mind. As we sit on the cushion, we place our mind on the breath. Whenever our mind moves and wander, or whenever we have strong cravings and fixations, we simply and gently bring our attention back to our breath, sensing our body without judging it. Keep practicing. There is nothing complicated about it.
The same shamatha practice also applies on any other daily activities. When we wash dishes, we wash dishes; as we walk, we walk; as we eat, we eat… Mindfulness practice is about being fully present with the activities we engage in. It is very simple and it is a powerful tool to train our mind and develop a whole new habit for our life.
From that strong and supple mind, authenticity will naturally arise. We will notice that old habitual patterns no longer serve us and make us happy. That is the time when we start to live with our genuine heart. And new actions will naturally manifest from that place.
We cannot force old habits to stop. We need to gently and diligently go through a profound process to dismantle the whole structure, and rebuild it from the core.
After practice is over, write down or draw a picture of what rose up from our mind. If you forget what they are already, simply let them go. If they are heavy enough to linger, express them in words or drawings in a journal.