I recently read with great relief an article by Cynthia Thatcher in Tricycle called, "What's So Great About Now?" She addresses the confusion we may experience when we keep bringing ourselves into the present moment during the course of the day but find that we're not exactly brimming with gratitude or able to appreciate the beauty in whatever we're doing. Here we are, doing our best to be good mindfulness practitioners, but we're just not feeling the vibe, yo. Shouldn't everything be looking radiant? Shouldn't we be feeling happier? Where's the sweet reward?
Thatcher told her teacher she was having doubts. "Somehow, Achan knew my thoughts. 'There's nothing good in the present moment, right?' he asked, hooting with laughter until his eyes teared up. Apparently this cosmic joke struck him as hilarious, though I didn't find it particularly funny. He was glad I was on the right track. I was beginning to find out what all meditators were supposed to see: the First Noble Truth that every [...] blip of mind... and matter... was unsatisfactory."
Thatcher explains that we don't practice mindfulness in order to perceive beauty or experience poignancy non-stop in our everyday surroundings. Rather, we should begin to look beyond what the senses show us: "There are only three of [ultimate characteristics]: impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and non-selfness. (Note that beauty isn't among them.)" When we "accept that mindfulness won't make the plum any sweeter or the kettle any brighter," we don't give up in discouragement. Instead, "the more we practice mindfulness, the less we'll care about sweetness or brightness" because we'll have a "superior substitute... We'll have learned the great secret that nonattachment is a lightness and freedom complete in itself, separate from the impressions pouring in through the sense-doors. Imagine it. We'd no longer need certain sights or touches to feel at ease."
The more we strive to Deeply Appreciate Each Moment, the more elusive satisfaction will be. Satisfaction isn't the point. Freedom is.
What are you noticing about the present moment?
for Mindful Monday
© November 3, 2014, post: Donna Pierce
Photo credit: Autumn Tornado, Joey Gannon, 2006.
#mindful #monday #findingGod