Embodying mindfulness and friendship, whether in formal meditation practice or in our activities, involves our whole being. There are many teachings, best practices and approaches to working with mindfulness, but in the midst of our chaotic lives, simplicity tends to be the best ally. There are three aspects of our ordinary existence that serve as gateways back to ourselves, and to the home of our natural being.
First is the body. Our bodies are an anchor to the present moment. In this age of speed and information, we tend to be absorbed in concept. We are “lost in our heads.” Teachers are especially renowned for being this way (ie- the “absent minded professor,” but it’s more like absent-bodied). Therefore, coming into our bodies is the foundation. Our bodies are great resources of knowing. This knowing is non-conceptual, not based on our book knowledge or rational, thinking minds. For some, this may sound mysterious or fluffy, but if we think of how our mothers comforted us as children, just holding us while we cried, we can remember what non-conceptual knowing is.
Our bodies are like vessels that shape the water of our outlook. So the technique is to regard our body as a castle of dignity. We take a posture of upright relaxation, feeling the natural balance and centeredness of our bodies. Life presents constant challenges and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and depressed, as well as just bad. Our sense of burden drags us down and we slouch. We also tend to feel self-conscious and afraid of our vulnerability, which makes us want to fidget or hide or perform, which can be another way of hiding. Therefore posture is a way of life. It shapes our intention to be fully open and brave. Again and again, in the midst of everything, we take a posture that is a natural expression of that human goodness.
As teachers, the posture grounds us in a sense of being that is strong but gentle, and it communicates that feeling to our students.