This weekend I’m on a workshop with Jeff Foster. It has been lovely to listen to his teachings. His whole emphasis is on coming into this moment. He uses a metaphor of life being like a film, where we can have our attention pulled away into the drama of past and future, but when we mediate we can come into the present scene and simply be with how it is right now. It’s such a simple act, but it is so transforming to bring attention into what is here right now, rather than the mind made time line of past and future.
What is here right now may be peace, calm, bliss, or fear, worry and anxiety. The challenge is to allow and accept this present scene of one’s life as it is. The mind that says “I’ll be fixed when I no longer feel X” is a mind that is saying I cannot love myself as I am right now. Instead, turning with care and compassion to this present scene of one’s life and allowing whatever is here to be here, there can be a sense of deep peace as the struggle to be other than how I am is let go of and instead there is an allowing that “this is how it is”. My teacher Ajhan Sumedho would always use this phrase when he taught: “it’s like this”, ” this is how it is”…..sadness is like this……happiness is like this……it’s an experience in the moment that can be known right now as sensations in the body and as feelings. Ajahn Sumedho used to say, “that which knows an emotion, isn’t the emotion it knows”. The awareness of sadness is not itself sad but is clear, luminous and free. The more we rest into present moment Awareness rather than being caught in the drama of me and mine the deeper the sense of freedom we can inhabit.
This has been the central teaching of todays workshop. Our practice is not about cutting off from how we are or trying to reach a state of perfection located at some abstract point in the future, a time when we no longer feel any unwelcome emotion or negative mental state and can there fore love ourselves. It’s about deepening the compassionate present moment awareness that can turn to whatever is here right now and hold it with kindness and a clarity of seeing that in itself is freedom, as it does not become the thing which it knows. It’s like a mirror that can clearly show all that is there, but at the same time remains untouched by whatever appears in its glass.
This is not a mystical achievement for a spiritual few, but an ability we all have, but sometimes just need to remember. As we meet to meditate each Monday its this simple act of knowing, seeing celery and holding our presentation moment experience in an open and non-judgmental awareness that is the core of the practice.