Monday, November 14, 2016

Mindfulness of body postures - Working with fear and dread

These are notes taken from Joseph Goldstein's book "Mindfulness
Chapter 8 mindfulness of postures

Again, monks, when walking, one knows “I am walking”; when standing, one knows “I am standing”; when sitting, one knows “I am sitting.”; when lying down, one knows “I am lying down”; or one knows accordingly however one’s body is disposed.

Simple and grounding
Especially if you are carried away with thoughts and ideas.

It strengthens continuity of awareness
No need for heightened states of concentration
We can do this practice outside of retreats
Anyone, no matter their education or sophistication, can do this practice

It reveals our state of mind
Do we notice a rushing mind which indicates anticipation, wanting, energetically toppling forward rather than being settled in the moment that is here.
            When walking, just walk.
            Settling back into the simplicity of the moment
Are we restless or impatient?

Working with fear and dread:
Before the buddha’s enlightenment, when he was still a bodhisattva, this is how he would confront his fear by going into the forest and sitting:

“And while I dwelt there, a wild animal would come up to me, or a peacock would knock off a branch, or the wind would rustle the leaves.
I thought: “What now is this fear and dread coming?”
I thought:  “Why do I dwell always expecting fear and dread?
What if I subdue that fear and dread while keeping the same posture that I am in when it comes upon me?

“While I walked, the fear and dread came upon me; I neither stood nor sat nor lay down till I had subdued that fear and dread.
While I stood, the fear and dread came upon me; I neither walked nor sat nor lay down till I had subdued that fear and dread.
While I sat, the fear and dread came upon me; I neither walked nor stood nor lay down till I had subdued that fear and dread.
While I lay down, the fear and dread came upon me; I neither walked nor stood nor sat down till I had subdued the fear and dread.

It’s clear from his description that purification of mind is not limited to sitting practice.  We can face and see through these unwholesome states whenever and wherever they arise.

It supports our understanding of the three characteristics.
·      Impermanence – anicca
o   Notice how much change of sensation there is, even in a simple movement
o   Moving from one posture to another demonstrates change
·      Dukkha – unsatisfactoriness
o   Why do we move from one posture to another?  We are motivated to alleviate some kind of pain or discomfort.
·      Selflessness – anatta - what we call the "self" is a series of sensations and moments.