Awakening to Every Breath

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Awareness means being awake to every breath, thought, and action. We become unbiased and more receptive, learning to recognise all as a part of our self. We start to perceive our commonality as, the fact that we are all shimmering filaments of the same Universal Energy, permeates consciousness. Shernaz takes an inward journey, realising the immense potentialities within us, in the weekly column, exclusively in Different Truths.

Awareness means being awake to every breath, thought, and action. It means that if we are drinking coffee, we put our whole mind into that, enjoying every sip, inhaling its aroma, feeling its warmth till the coffee and we become one. It means doing mundane daily chores like brushing teeth or hair attentively not missing one stroke.  It is the quality or state of mind where one is relentlessly alert, totally in the present instant, which is eternal.  We have our limited span on earth and the ongoing present moment is all we really have. When we are not in the here and now, we are not really alive. So we should live with absolute mindfulness, which is the central core of Buddhist teaching, for the sheer joy of being just like a child; uncomplaining and accepting things as they are, is what saves us from a lot of pain.

“Suffering usually relates to wanting things to be different than they are,” said Allan Lokos.

How much practice and dedication constant awareness requires is brought home to us from a Zen story recounted by Anthony D’mello S.J. in his book, The Song of the Bird: 

No Zen student would presume to teach until he has lived with his Master for at least ten years.
Tenno having passed his ten years of apprenticeship became a teacher. One day he went to visit his Master Nan-in. It was a rainy day, so Tenno wore wooden clogs and carried an umbrella. “When Tenno walked in, Nan-in said to him, “You left your wooden clogs and umbrella on the porch, didn’t you? Tell me, did you place your umbrella on the right side of the clogs or the left side?”
Tenno had no reply and became confused. He realised he had not been able to practice Constant Awareness. So he became Nan-in’s student and studied for another ten years to attain Constant Awareness!

The secret lies in the word ‘constant’. One cannot be mindful only during meditation or for a while, post-meditation. Mindful awareness is a continuous process.  Joey Green shows us a simple but effective means to be continually present:

“The way to live in the present is to remember that ‘This too shall pass.’ When you experience joy, remembering that ‘This too shall pass’ helps you savour the here and now. When you experience pain and sorrow, remembering that ‘This too shall pass’ reminds you that grief, like joy, is only temporary.”  

We are puny. Puny, gagged and preconditioned. That is the first lesson I learned as I began to engage in the fascinating process of mindfulness. As the ego starts to be downsized, afraid to lose its self-importance, this master of deception and disguise takes recourse to trickery. It’s the best masquerade is a lulling delusion of humility. It is as tricky and wily as Gollum. And just as pathetic. That is why a regular state of awareness is a prerequisite to unmasking and keeping this maggot at bay, which persistently eats away at every attempt we make to free ourselves from its grasp. Edging God Out is how someone has very imaginatively and I believe aptly described the word.

An attitude of nonstop, unflagging watchfulness is the key that opens us up to vistas never before imagined by our self-constrained minds. It is amazing what even a little can do! Habitual training helps shed our intense and frenzied struggle through life; as we calmly acknowledge all internal and external feelings, sensations, thoughts and realise how we are just running to grab, compete, achieve mindlessly, we discern the futility of it all and begin to gradually experience stillness. Layer upon layer of thought gets peeled off and one becomes alerted to surreptitious mental activity. We go about the business of daily living but with tranquillity, awake to our thoughts and actions. We commence to respond where we used to react; we listen rather than talk and are less presumptuous. But we are cautioned against becoming attached to stillness if we want it only in exchange for the tumult of daily living. We are told there is a delusion, no wisdom in any kind of attachment, so we must remain mindful of not falling prey to that.

Steadily, with enormous perseverance, the light of awareness begins to emerge. The door of insight opens slow inch by slow inch onto the limitations and impurities of our preconceived notions; we unclog the mind which eventually becomes an empty sheet, poised for the unexplored. A beautiful, unconfined space opens to unique aspects and perceptions. We acquire a true understanding of our mind.

We become unbiased and more receptive, learning to recognise all as a part of our self. We start to perceive our commonality as, the fact that we are all shimmering filaments of the same Universal Energy, permeates consciousness. We learn to respect the sanctity of all living and non-living entities and know within us that a well-preserved Earth is a legacy we must leave our future generations. We now understand and value the reverence our ancestors had for Mother Nature in all her moods and seasons. Our sense of wonder grows at everything we’ve always taken for granted. Our miraculous body, our family, friends, teachers and even strangers with whom we interact indifferently, appear in a new light. Food becomes more delectable as with increasing awe we express our thankfulness for them whose labour and toil went into bringing it to us. “The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Contentment and gratitude become a way of life. Materialism begins to fade and a newly awakened spirituality loosens the grip of ingrained beliefs and ideology. Life acquires a fresh start, a different meaning, and an entirely unforeseen direction! We begin to feel light and free as fears and doubts dissipate; selfishness and greed are supplanted by compassion and love; peace within us radiates outward as we direct it towards the whole existence.

Nothing has really changed. And yet everything takes on a distinctive hue. What has altered is our discernment. We see the world and the people around us with wonderstruck eyes. Our own inner self is metamorphosed, suffusing everything with the iridescence of its new avatar.

©Shernaz Wadia

Photos from the internet.

#Awareness #NewAvatar #Mindfulness #InwardJourney #Tranquility #DifferentTruths

To Shernaz Wadia, reading and writing poems has been one of the means to embark on an inward journey. She hopes her words will bring peace, hope and light into dark corners. Her poems have been published in many e-journals and anthologies. She has published her own book of poems “Whispers of the Soul” and another titled “Tapestry Poetry – A Fusion of Two Minds” with her poetry partner Avril Meallem.