An Invitation to Mindfulness Practice
I’m about to conduct a short investigation into the present moment. Would you care to join me? Wonderful. Welcome aboard.
As you read these words, where are you sitting? Take a slow look around. What sounds do you hear? Take a moment to listen to them.
How does your body feel in the position you’re sitting in? Stop and find out. You may observe areas of tension you had not been aware of before. As you exhale, relax them.
What are you feeling at the moment? What’s on your mind? Please take a moment to listen to your in-breath and out-breath, letting go of any distractions you may have. Don’t judge or analyze; just observe what is alive in you in the present moment. If you haven’t done it recently, you might want to offer yourself a smile.
If you have joined me in my investigations of the last few minutes, you have been practicing mindfulness. I call it “practice” not because it’s meant to be a difficult struggle, but because it’s a skill that we can improve on with application. Mindfulness is simple but elusive, gentle but powerful. Our overbusy lifestyle makes resting and relaxing in the present moment an unfamiliar experience, but mindfulness is actually a natural, pleasant practice. If it feels good, you’re probably on the right track!
Mindfulness is also a doorway to a richer experience of life. Developing our awareness of what is really happening in us and around us, we come to recognize creative options to deal with life’s challenges. We develop perspective on the habits that cause us and others to suffer. Slowly, insight into how we can live a more fulfilling life arises.
Of course, we do not live in a vacuum. To transform ourselves is to transform the world. Naturally, the freedom, joy and peace that we cultivate through mindfulness practice affects our environment. The space mindfulness brings us can help untangle the knots of difficult relationships—within ourselves and then with others. This transformation can be supported and accelerated by a community. Meeting regularly to practice together, sharing insights and experience, a group of practitioners can generate the energy of mindfulness in a powerful way.
That’s where this publication comes in. It is an online community, committed to the exploration of mindfulness in everyday life. Please check out the articles, contribute to the forums and share it with your friends. Community is what we make it, and your participation—even if it is just a thoughtful read—is sincerely appreciated.
I will end with a meditation from Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh which expresses how I feel: “Breathing in, I know you are there. Breathing out, I smile.”
Weekly Practice Times in Toronto
(all sessions free of charge)
Mindfulness Practice West End:
Saturdays – 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Emmanuel Howard Park United Church (2nd floor)
214 Wright Avenue
Mindfulness Practice U of T
Fridays – 5 p.m to 7 p.m.
International Students’ Centre
33 St. George Street