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Lions Roar : September 2016
WHEN I WAS YOUNG, I never had the experience of looking at my mind—much less dealing with the myriad arisings of pleasure, pain, and neutrality that come when we observe our- selves. So my early years of meditation practice were difficult. When we get older, the prospect of observing the mind and body and their processes can become daunting, so there’s real value in sharing the Buddha’s four foundations of mindful- ness with people when they’re younger. I have been teaching mindfulness meditation to people between the ages of two and twenty for more than a decade, and these are some techniques that I’ve found work. Sound Here’s a little immersion into the present moment via the gate- way of sound. I begin by asking students to close their eyes so their other senses become more robust. After a bit, I invite them to gently bring their attention to whatever sounds are present in the room. Gradually, their awareness rises of the sounds hap- pening around them: shuffling feet, giggles from those who find the practice a little weird, the clearing of a throat, voices in the distance, cars coming and going, and so on. I usually end the practice by whistling or ringing a bell, asking the class to raise their hands when they can no longer WHEN YOU SIT AND MEDITATE, you are there: you are being with your body, with your sense of life or survival, with your sense of effort, and at the same time, you are being with your mind. Mindfulness of mind suggests a sense of presence and a sense of accuracy in terms of being there. The whole process is a very simple matter. It concerns you and your world. Nothing else. It does not particularly concern enlightenment, and it does not particularly concern meta- physical comprehension. In fact, this simple matter does not particularly concern the next minute, or the minute before this one. It only concerns the very small area where we are now. Really, we operate on a very small basis. We think we are great, broadly significant, and that we cover a whole large area. We see ourselves as having a history and a future, and here we are in our big-deal present. But if we look at ourselves clearly in this very moment, we see we are just grains of sand—just little people con- cerned only with this little dot which is called nowness. We can only operate on one dot at a time, and mindfulness of mind approaches our experience in that way. We are there and we approach ourselves on the very simple basis of that. That does not particularly have many dimensions, many perspectives; it is just a simple thing. Relating directly to this little dot of nowness is the right understanding of austerity. And if we work on this basis, it is possible to begin to see the truth of the matter, so to speak—to begin to see what nowness really means. In sitting practice, or in the awareness practice of everyday life, for that matter, you are not trying to solve a wide array of problems. You are looking at one situation that is very limited. It is so limited that there is not even room to be claustrophobic. If it is not there, it is not there. You missed it. If it is there, it is there. That is the pinpoint of mindfulness of mind, that sim- plicity of total up-to-dateness, total directness. Mind functions singly. Once. And once. One thing at a time. The practice of mindfulness of mind is to be there with that one-shot perception, constantly. You get a complete picture from which nothing is missing: that is happening, now that is happening, now that is happening. There is no escape. Even if you focus yourself on escaping, that is also a one-shot move- ment of which you could be mindful. Things always happen one at a time, in a direct, simple movement of mind. Therefore, in the technique of mindfulness of mind, it is traditionally recommended that you be aware of each single-shot perception of mind as thinking: “I am thinking I hear a sound.” “I am thinking I smell a scent.” “I am thinking I feel hot.” “I am thinking I feel cold.” Each one of these is a total approach to experience—very precise, very direct, one single movement of mind. Things always happen in that direct way. That one-shot real- ity is all there is. There is only the one shot; everything happens only once. There is just that. ♦ CHÖGYAM TRUNGPA RINPOCHE (1939–1987) was the author of such classics as Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism and Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior. He was the founder of this magazine. This article is adapted from his book The Heart of the Buddha, with permission of Shambhala Publications. One-Shot Mind In the Vajrayana tradition, says CHÖGYAM TRUNGPA RINPOCHE, mindfulness of mind means relating to one little dot of nowness after another. Teaching Mindfulness to Young People BORN I MUSIC (Ofosu Jones-Quartey) on how he brings mindfulness to life for his students. LION’S ROAR | SEPTEMBER 2016 54