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we use the breath to train in mindfulness of feeling. Releasing
thoughts and coming back to the feeling of the breath automatically
bestows some insight: “It is so hard, but this is how I feel.” What
follows such awareness is a feeling of openness, gentleness, and
curiosity. If we respond to the thought with “I am bad” or “These
thoughts are making me feel worse, I must get rid of them,” meditation
becomes a battle of sorts, and a feeling of pressure sets in.
is supposed to feel good. In fact, when we are simply being and
feeling, we appreciate; we find that we are naturally less discursive
and less critical. That’s because practice is different from
conceptualizing. Most people meditate just with the head— “How am I
doing?” Or perhaps they feel, and then think, “Well, what I am feeling
cannot possibly be what the meditators are talking about.” When we do
that, we are disempowering ourselves. We need to let go of our
conceptual mind and be with the feeling.
be aware of how our mind feels and learn to stay with it requires
taking time out every day, even briefly, for a period of selfreflection.
If you have a hard time sitting still, you can stand, or walk slowly—or
even just find a nice chair where you can sit down, relax, and
self-reflect. We all need that moment. Even though we are quiet and
still, a lot is happening during this period of rest: we heal and we
develop. It is how we learn and how we change.
moments of self-reflection are not especially encouraged in our
culture. It is up to us to see their importance, especially as the world
becomes speedier. Just as exercise is considered a normal, healthy
thing to do for the body, self-reflection is a good thing to do for the
mind. But because we cannot see the mind and heart, the benefits of
meditation are not as obvious—and in our culture, it is hard to simply be.
We are more inclined to always be doing. However, like the crops in the
field, we all need a fallow period of enriching and gaining.
is a very personal experience. Even if we sit there for only five
minutes, our mind is not doing nothing. We are exploring how our mind
really feels, unconditioned by family, education, friends, culture, and
even our concepts about meditation. Resting in this space is
self-empowerment minus the ego. By contacting that open feeling, the
inherently pure stream at the depth of our being, we are laying the
seeds for those feelings of love to grow within our own consciousness.
Then those potent seeds will materialize in our life.
we feel is an important part of being in a community. If we can feel a
little bit, then we know how somebody else feels. This gives birth to
the thought of helping others. The great bodhisattva Shantideva says
that there is not a better feeling and purpose than that thought. He
instructs us to water that thought with the six paramitas: generosity,
discipline, patience, exertion, meditation/feeling, and
we are relaxing and feeling, we are being present, and when we are
present and feeling, that moment is whole. Our mind knows how to be and
how to feel, and the whole thing is one complete moment that we call
happiness, pleasure. We know how it feels. However, if we do not know
how happiness or pleasure feels, we are continuously looking for it,
never able to appreciate its simplicity.
and being are not necessarily taught in school. That is why the
meditation tradition has survived—so we can train in the ability to
relax, to feel and embody our nature. When we embody compassion and
kindness, we have potency and strength. Then even good posture is an
expression of how we feel inside—not just something we are imposing on
let’s practice from the inside out. Taking time to feel the compassion
and kindness at our core has an effect on our health, our state of mind,
how we relate to our family, and how we work. No matter what is on our
mind, we can find time in the day to feel where we are, and just be. We
are not talking about being ourselves in an egotistical way. We are
simply talking about being human. Goodness is always present, and with
the practice of meditation, our feeling for it continues to grow.