Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Present "Awake and Present, same-same"

"Awake and Present, same-same"

by Ajahn Sumano

       Now, I want to introduce you to an extraordinarily simple way to awaken to the present: the present is the Path to the Spirit. It is your present!
       Begin by closing your eyes and holding your breath. Hold your breath only as long as it is comfortable to do so. What you will discover is that this activates an enhanced awareness and puts the thought process into abeyance. It grounds to a halt the train of compulsive thought that provokes the confusion we often experience. Of course, you can only make use of this technique for a minute or so. You can't hold your breath long enough for it to become a practice. But now that you know how this feels - this feeling of being In the present - you can use it as a template. Next you can learn to slow down thought through carefully watching your mind, this will eventually allow you to stop all thought. You will know when this happens from remembering how you feel in the present moment when you hold your breath you will have experienced a taste of the present moment. When you are in the present moment you will have arrived into your life-stream; you will be present. Present-moment-awareness will come to know the still, tranquil mind. The template-of-presentness which you now know will become indelible. You can use this throughout your life to breakout from the past and future.
       In the next stage of your practice you will find a sound ringing in the background of your mind. This sound is the existential background sound that rings in the silence. Turn your attention towards listening for "the sound of silence". As soon as you turn toward the sound, you should feel both the body and mind relax and settle down onto a cloud of calm-tranquility.
       This is the core of meditative prayer. As I said earlier, silence is the heartwood of all religions and is the quality that lifts the mind into the Heart. Immersing in silence brings about relaxation and subdues thought. The mind is strengthened. This strengthening can and should be called "boon". It is this strong, "boon-full" mind that is able to meet anything and everything with clarity and fearlessness. 
       Finally, after you have spent some dedicated time becoming proficient in inclining towards the sound of silence, you can develop another stage in which you turn awareness towards noticing change. At this stage, you could benefit by doing retreat under the guidance of a skilled teacher.
       Now is the time to begin by holding your breath. Recognize that this is the right time to begin your spiritual life phase or your wouldn't be reading this page. Right in this lifetime, in this mind-moment, beginning from this present moment onward. The time to begin is always only in the present moment. The time to free is always in this present moment. You can use the stopped breath technique to deal with pain.
       Simply by momentarily holding the breath, pain is diffused, it is reduced significantly, and the natural healing process is able to get on with its work. When the breath is held there won't be the struggle to avoid or run away that signifies the arrival of fear. Have your child use this technique while visiting dentist or doctor, he or she will be surprised to find that the feelings of pain that we usually try and run away from lose their intensity and transform into interesting sensations. The fear factor that pain has held over us can no longer generate dread or fright. Fear can no longer intimidate. Whenever we are in a painful situation all we need to do is hold the breath just long enough to allow the pain to diffuse so that the natural healing process easily engages.

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