Just Being

When I first studied Zen, quite a few years ago, I was somewhat baffled by the instructions I received, which were to sit with a straight spine, hold my hands in a particular way, and ‘simply breathe’.

Ok I thought, then what? What is the advanced course? How do I get my black belt? Turns out there isn’t one.

As I read Zen books and continued to practise, the only extra instruction I found was to ‘just sit’! Not much for my Western mind to chew on!

Now, this is exactly what my practice comprises – the attempt to get out of my own way and to just be, but I believe that a little extra detail may help you to enter this state.

What we need to do in the practise of awareness, of beingness, is to move attention from the constant doing of the mind to the natural activity of the body. In Zen, they simply follow the breath and allow everything inside to settle on its own, and we can embrace this too.

As the next breath comes in, feel it. As it goes out, feel that. Then allow that process to draw your attention deeper within and see what you find. Inside me, there is someone watching, which I call awareness, and there is a sense of aliveness that I call beingness.

Having noticed these within myself, I have a choice. I can stay absorbed in thinking, or I can keep coming back to this awareness/beingness, and this is my daily practice. My hourly practice. My momentary practice. It is incredibly simple and you can make it your practice too.

I have done my best to describe this practice in words, but like all experiences, it must be directly embodied in order to make sense. If you would like to join me on Skype or over the phone, contact me at oli@peacethroughmindfulness.com.au to arrange a session.


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