Impermanence and the blues

I’ve written before about the how concentration and feeling connected can come and go, day by day or week by week or even minute by minute. Having a long established practice seems to be a foundation, so that when the ‘off’ times come and the mind seems fuzzy or distracted – just a little bit of practice can bring us back into the state of feeling centered.

Just last week, I was feeling pretty blah.  I was doing my best to stay with the feelings.  Some of the feelings were body feelings and there’s been a lot of sickness going around, so coughing and congestion and general tiredness was a part of it.  But there was also a sense that my mind was not focused (and staying aware of the state of being unfocused is pretty tricky business). Noting that “I’m really not focused today” is possible, however, and while that’s not exactly deeply concentrated tracking, it still counts as bringing some awareness to the situation.  I thought about writing a blog post about staying with mindfulness no matter what arises – even the yucky feelings, the distractions, the sadness, the ‘what is meditation good for anyway’ feelings.

This week has been very different. I’ve been sitting and reading great material and feeling very connected. I’ve been focusing on concentration practices — mostly those having to do with mindfulness of breathing plus awareness of mental activity in real time. Concentration feels great. I’ve also found a number of great resources on the web for reading. (One thing that has come up is the supposed split between concentration practice and wisdom practice. Concentration practice leading to the jhanas and wisdom practice leading to insight. I’m not certain there is a clear distinction, but I can see that there can be a different emphasis to one’s practice and that can lead to different states temporarily.  All this to say.. I wanted to have some balance in my practice, so I went looking for the wisdom, which is developed by incorporating the ideas of impermanence, no-self, and emptiness into practice.)

In listening to this dharma talk by Joseph Goldstein on Impermanence. I came to realize *one* reason why bringing awareness to the gunky parts of life is so important… it’s because it gives you a marker so you can see when it changes. Impermanence functions on so many levels.. all levels.. but seeing that moods and broad patterns of thinking and feeling come and go like everything else is very liberating.

Joseph Goldstein – Liberation Through Non-Clinging
IMS – November 19, 2008, 61 minutes, 28.2 MB (DownloadStream)

Peace to everyone!

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