Friday, November 13, 2009

Working the Mind Muscle with Meditation

This morning, I really became aware of the mind muscle, as I sat, and watched the ebbs and flows of awareness, moment to moment.

House quiet, except for comforting sound of space heater. Body sunk into chair, fading into almost nonexistence. Only movement of breath, belly rising, and falling. Small, shallow breaths. Noticing each one, even in the midst of passing thoughts. Image of dream, still fresh. Not now, I will attend later. Breathing, I say the word, with each breath. Still body, willful awareness, and loving heart, all working together to help birth mindful self, one breath at a time. Hard work. I can feel the strain. Not unlike feeling of body being pushed to its limits, during master's swim with coach Tim. Remembering Gil's talk, about each minded breath, being a tremendous gift. Tim, Gil, both helping. Nothing to worry about, just follow breath, and whatever else arises. Attention being pulled inward, away from outside body. Tension in neck, shoulders. Feeling as if flesh's left behind. Temptation to take a break. No. To keep working with breath, like midwife. Body sensations fading into background, again. Only breath. Oh! so soft. Getting into a rhythm. Bell rings. Not rushing. Winding down workout, eyes opening, body motioning, slowly. Mind tired, sharpened.


  1. Wow, how do you remember all this? Are you taking notes? :)

  2. Oh! no, no notes. Just being mindful, noticing moment to moment, or at least trying to . . . When I am done, sitting, it's all there.

    You seem surprised. Would love to hear about your meditation experiences.

    Deep bow,


  3. I had an experience like that while sitting a sesshin last year... felt like I could literally feel the sensation of my mind relaxing. Very interesting.

    If you haven't already read it, you may enjoy Dan Siegel's book Mindsight. He is very eloquent about this phenomenon and what exactly is happening with the brain/mind during meditation.

  4. Not surprised, just impressed. Then again, I'm doing mostly Zen style meditation, which, as I've learned it anyway, is a combination of counting the breath that you posted about recently (the "1" in, "2" out, up to "10" and then start over) along with seeing thoughts and letting them go.

    I suppose if I was doing a more noticing kind of practice, I might have more "notes" afterward as well. :)

    Anyway, I really like the way you're expressing your experience here. There's a strong flow/stream of consciousness feel to it, just one-and-then-the-next. Peaks and valleys of content, no way to really make a distinction about where one ends and another begins.

    The feeling is definitely one I am very familiar with, even if my practice is technically different.

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Thank you Maia. I will look up Dan Siegel's book. I am so happy you and I connected!

  6. Ian, thank you so much for sharing. I am always so curious about other people's ways of inner discoveries. Many different vehicles, one path . . .

    I just wonder. Do you just focus on breath and thoughts? Or do you also include whatever is in present, including also feelings, body sensations, hearing of sounds, etc . . . ?

  7. Marguerite, me too!

    There's another book... I haven't read it yet but I just love the title, and it describes exactly that sensation of relaxing the mind that I mentioned. It's called "Opening the Hand of Thought" by Uchiyama Roshi. Isn't that lovely?

  8. Yes, lovely indeed, and captures very well the spirit of effortless attention. Thank you. Will add to pile!

  9. Sorry, been away from the 'net all weekend. Personally, I focus on breath, and let the thoughts come and go. Often, I do get caught in the thoughts, but the breath is always there to come back to, within and all around the thoughts. Nothings WRONG with the thoughts, just better to be able to watch them then to be them.

  10. Yes, same here. No hanging to the thoughts, or feelings, or sensations, or anything for that matter. Just noting. So freeing!