July 28      

Today's quotation:

There is a rhythm in life, a certain beauty which operates by a variation of lights and shadows, happiness alternating with sorrow, content with discontent, distilling in this process of contrast a sense of satisfaction, of richness that can be captured and pinned down only by those who possess the gift of awareness.

Louis Bromfield

Today's Meditation:

It's sometimes difficult to be very aware of all that's around us.  Most of us are never taught how to pay attention to our surroundings, except for the things that seem most immediate to us.  If our attention is on getting to the car because we need to go somewhere, it's very easy to miss the birds singing and the fresh breeze, especially if we're in a "hurry."  If we're talking to someone else and our focus is on them and what they're saying (or on what we're planning to say), it's easy not to be tuned in to the other people and animals that are all around us.

The world is constantly giving us a show, a rhythm, but most of us are constantly missing it.  This show is deep and rich and fascinating, and it would be a wonderful addition to our lives if we were to be able to make it so.  But to be aware of the bigger picture, we have to start by becoming aware of the smaller things like our breathing, our heartbeat, the current air temperature, the ways that we feel at the moment.  This is why people who meditate so often seem to be much more at peace, for they've become aware of the cosmic dance, and they're able to accept it simply because they're aware of it.

One trick that I use regularly when I'm caught up in being caught up in something is to ask myself "What else is here?"  If I'm talking to a friend in a cafe, I'll make sure that I look around and see what's surrounding me instead of ignoring it.  There are plenty of chances to do so without being rude to my friend, and the benefits are always worth it.  Sometimes if I'm eating something, I ask myself where it came from-- the farmer who grew the wheat, the workers who harvested it, those who ground it to flour, those who transported it to a place where they turned the flour to bread. . . etc., etc., etc.  Thus I stay much more aware of the cycles of life, and my small place in them.

Being aware does take effort, and sometimes the benefits of that effort aren't immediately apparent.  But if a fire does break out, I want to be with the person who knows where the fire extinguishers are.  And if the birds are singing, I want to be the person who notices it and enjoys their song.  My awareness doesn't make my life richer-- it simply allows me to recognize the richness that's all around me, all the time.

Questions to consider:

What kinds of things do we miss when we don't practice awareness?

Why do so many of us find it difficult to be fully aware of our surroundings?

How might you become more aware of your current surroundings, right here and right now?  Is there any value in doing so?

For further thought:

We exercise the power of awareness and strengthen our spiritual muscle by bringing ourselves, over and over again, into the immediate present. To do so, we must become present with what we are feeling and thinking.  We can turn our attention directly toward what we are experiencing instead of staying enmeshed in a feeling or blindly accepting our beliefs about ourselves.

Richard Moss
The Mandala of Being

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