In the cooking pot analogy, Wise Mindfulness is the delicious nourishing content of the pot. It is the reason for the pot, the matches and the firewood of Wise View, Wise Intention and Wise Effort. In cultivating Wise Mindfulness we are both creating and enjoying something that is both delicious and nourishing. We always feel infinitely better for experiencing it, whether only a sip of it or as a steady diet we thrive upon. If we practice meditation regularly, avail ourselves of wisdom teachings and go on an occasional retreat, we can live mindfully, finding a balanced wholesome joy in each moment, regardless of causes and conditions.
In this analogy, the contents of the pot also season the pot. So the more mindful we become the more our view becomes wise, so then our intentions and efforts are also wiser. All the aspects of the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path work together in this way.
But what is Mindfulness?
As I savor being mindful in this moment, here are the ‘flavors’ I notice. Read each one slowly, let it sink in, then repeat until its meaning is clear. Feel free to spend as much time with each one as you like, possibly saving others for another time — whatever your own inner wisdom feels best:
~ Embracing the ordinary with delight expands and enriches each moment.
~ Letting go of the need to be or experience anything unique or special is liberating.
~ This moment contains the whole universe; it is ever and always enough.
~ There is nothing that needs changing here.Inner silence does not rely on the world quieting down.
~ Pleasant and unpleasant sensations can arise and fall away without becoming springboards to threads of thought that bring in the past and future.
~ I can feel compassion for myself and all beings, despite judgments and opinions I may habitually experience.
~ Every breath, every sensation is different from the last. In this way I understand the nature of Impermanence.
~ Thoughts and emotions arise and fall away. I don’t need to fight them, chase them or cling to them.
~ Thoughts and emotions do not define me: Feeling angry does not make me “an angry person”.
What do you notice when you are fully present? Take a moment now to sit and just look around you. Use all the sensations to simply be exactly where you are. With your eyes you might notice light and dark, colors, shapes, movement, etc. Let go of labels of objects, opinions and judgments, and imagine this scene as a framed painting in a museum, trusting there is something here, even in this most ordinary scene, to appreciate, just as it is.
Notice the sounds arising in this moment. They are notes in the Symphony of Now, never to be repeated in just this way. Wise Mindfulness has room for all that arises, even if, maybe especially if, the sounds are ones you have strong opinions about. Wise Mindfulness has compassion for the habituated judging too.
Are there people about? Send them metta, infinite lovingkindness, that it may lighten the burden all beings bear. Can you do this without adopting their burden as your own? Can you stay present in this moment, radiating lovingkindness and not chase after stories that entwine and resonate with your own?
Now close your eyes and sense into the textures under your fingers.
Wiggle your toes to bring your awareness fully into the body.
Notice other internal sensations: the breath, the overall energy, any internal processes like digestion, a pain, an itch, etc.
Welcome to this moment, just as it is. Welcome to Wise Mindfulness!
Remember that mindfulness is not just for during the practice of meditation. Meditation is cultivating the habit of mindfulness so we can be present in all the precious moments of life. Every moment is precious, never to be repeated! Comparing mind may beg to differ, but Wise Mindfulness brings a more satisfying perspective.
Maybe Wise Mindfulness is like being in love
You might think of mindfulness as allowing yourself to fall in love with this moment just as it is, again and again and again. Not the wild ride of romantic love with all its dramatics, but a wholesome open love, the love one feels for one’s child, perhaps. We can hold each moment the way a parent holds their infant, with tenderness and delight, even if they are squalling or have a smelly diaper. Just so, we embrace this moment as it is, not comparing it to any other moment, not wishing it away, but meeting it with our full attention and love, seeing in it what others may not because they have not fallen in love with this moment. They are caught up in comparing mind and wishing this moment away, the way diners at a restaurant might have less than pleasant thoughts about the family at the next table with the squalling baby. So then mindfulness is being up close and personal with this moment, knowing it is unique and lovable, just the way it is.