Category: Mindfulness

The Suffering of Everyday Life

During the time that I was married, I subjected my wife to a litany of jokes involving obscure references to my various interests. I am fairly (but not entirely) certain that this was not what caused our marriage to deteriorate. Over the last year or so of our marriage, one of my go-to comments was to utter the phrase, “this is dukkha” in annoying or unpleasant situations, which would invariably elicit a roll of the eyes. Although I employed it as humor, it was always in a situation where I actually recognized the workings of dukkha in a mundane situation.

four noble truths

The first of the Noble Truths is often translated as, “Life is suffering.” The Pali word “dukkha” is somewhat problematically translated as “suffering” in many places. There isn’t really a perfect translation in English for the word dukkha, but I have seen it translated as “stress”, “unsatisfactoriness”, and “anxiety”, as well as the common, “suffering.” All of these definitions seem to have an element of truth to them, but the full sense of the word is complex, and plays out in our daily lives in several different ways. It is also closely tied to another Pali concept, “tanha,” which is often translated as “craving”, “desire”, or “thirst.”

Everybody Hurts

Some things just hurt. Pain and discomfort of all kinds are just part of the package deal that we get with the gift of human existence. We stub our toe and it causes physical pain. Someone treats us unkindly and it makes us feel bad emotionally. We lose someone we care about or watch an important relationship deteriorate, and we feel sorrow. These kinds of experiences are inevitable, and in the moment we will feel a kind of pain or suffering when we are confronted with them. There is no avoiding this kind of pain.

Where we really begin to feel suffering is through our desire that things be other than they are. We crave pleasant experiences, and we feel aversion toward unpleasant ones. When my wife told me that she was unhappy in our marriage, I naturally felt sorrow and pain. This pain was unavoidable. It was when I wallowed in my desire for things to be different than they were or when I chose to try to avoid the reality of my situation through heavy drinking that I really experienced dukkha. When I reached the point of being able to be mindful of my grief, and accept it, that was when I began to see my suffering diminish somewhat.

The Things That Happen (and the Stories We Tell About Those Things)

Another form that dukkha takes – probably my personal poison of choice – is through the stories that we build on top of our lived experiences. The unpleasant experience that we have had just isn’t bad enough, so we pile onto it with self-recriminations, self-pity, and various other forms of self-torture.

Personally, I have long specialized in a form of this that involves feelings of guilt and shame. I do or say something that I regret, and then proceed to replay the incident in my head over and over, telling myself what a fuck up I am, or that I’m a bad person. I have generally liked to mix in obsessions about what other people are thinking about me, despite the fact that nobody is spending as much time thinking about me as I am.

There are a number of different ways that these mental formations can manifest themselves. Thoughts of anxiety, inadequacy, and judgment all add suffering to our daily lives. We relive uncomfortable events that are sometimes years in the past, or build out anxiety laden scenarios set in the future.

As we practice mindfulness, we can learn to recognize these mental formations for what they are, mere illusions created by our minds. Through that recognition, we can learn to observe the arising of the thoughts, let them play out and pass away, rather than giving them energy to run on a constant loop.

reaching out
Photo freely given by David Monje on Unsplash

You Just Keep Me Hangin’ On

Sometimes our suffering isn’t produced by negative experiences, but by our relationship to pleasant ones.

Everything in and around us is constantly changing. Nothing is fixed. This can become a cause of dissatisfaction when we experience something that we like, and try to cling to that experience. I’ve written about this a little bit previously.

On some level, we know the experience won’t last, but we try to keep it going anyway, and we suffer when it goes away. Not only that, we generally don’t actually enjoy the experience as much while we are in it, because we are so stressed out about the prospect of it disappearing.

This expression of dukkha can show in both insignificant and more meaningful situations. Sometimes it might be something as mundane as enjoying the warmth of the sun on a fall day, then becoming frustrated when clouds move in. Other situations might be more impactful, such as being in the middle of the euphoria of a romantic relationship, only to suffer as you watch that relationship come to an end.

If we can learn to be present in these situations, we can enjoy them while they last, without clinging to them as they pass away. I can say from personal experience that this isn’t easy, but my meditation practice has definitely helped me be more present moment-to-moment, and to cling less. It also helps me to be aware of the suffering that I experience when I do cling, and to pull out of the nose dive more quickly when I do indulge that clinging.

This is Dukkha

Although I am still very much a baby meditator and mindfulness practitioner, I have seen that there is a path out of the suffering that we experience every day. The most important step for me has been learning to identify dukkha as early as possible. Although I have joked about it, that moment of saying, “this is dukkha” is the important one. Recognizing that we have moved beyond the normal pain of an experience, and have entered into clinging, aversion, or harmful story telling; that is the moment when we have the ability to respond skillfully, rather than simply reacting mindlessly.

Practicing mindfulness helps us to be more aware of our internal temperature. We can see when we are starting to feel things going sideways with our disposition and can examine what is going on. Are we desiring something we don’t have or experiencing something we don’t want? Are we clinging to something that is going away? Are we creating movies in our head that are exacerbating an unpleasant situation? Once we’ve recognized the situation, we can accept things for what they really are and let go of the mental baggage that we are bringing into our experience.

This is all part of a growth process. I am more often able to recognize when I am causing myself unnecessary suffering than I was when I started on this journey, but I still find myself often succumbing to it. The more time I spend practicing the Dharma, the more skillful I become. The important thing is to keep practicing, and when I experience periods that feel like failure, accept those as a part of the path and begin again.

31 Day Precept Project Wrap-up

This month didn’t exactly go according to script (whatever that means,) so I didn’t end up posting very often about my month-long project of focusing more intensely on the Five Precepts. To be honest, I wasn’t as active in examining some of the precepts as I had intended to be either. My practice turned out to be a little more focused on some stuff that I had going on in my personal life, so some of the energy that I had originally planned to spend on this project got somewhat diverted. That being said, I did want to do a wrap-up on the project, and what I will be taking away from the experience.

First Precept

The First Precept is focused on abstaining from killing, and I chose to adopt a vegan lifestyle as a part of my work with this precept. There were some accidental lapses in this effort early in the month, but I managed to be more consistent after the first week or so. I found that taking this step felt really good. I experienced a lot of joy in knowing that I was eating in a way that caused less suffering and did less damage to our planet than I have at various points in my life. In regard to my practice, I can say that adhering to this commitment generated more mindfulness about the choices that I made in regard to my diet. I intend to continue to eat in a similar way, but have decided to ditch the label of vegan. I haven’t felt that it was useful to build this layer of identity on my food and other purchasing choices. I will eat a plant based diet and prioritize purchasing goods that involve as little suffering as possible, but I don’t think I need the vegan label.

Second Precept

This was one of the Precepts that didn’t get as much focus as I had planned on. I did spend some time working with it, especially in regard to thinking of less obvious ways that we take what isn’t freely given in our everyday life. I found that I could include diet in this Precept as well, as it seems pretty clear that animals are not freely giving us milk, cheese, honey, etc. I also considered the fact that there are several ways that sexuality can be tied into this Precept. The #metoo movement demonstrated the long history in our culture of women having their agency, dignity, and emotional and physical safety taken by men.

Although I spent a little time working with this one, I feel like I would like to continue to dig deeper.

Third Precept

The Precept involving sexual misconduct was another one that didn’t get as much attention as I had planned. Other than thinking about how this also tied into the Second Precept, I didn’t really make it much further than I had in my original post about it. This is definitely one that I feel needs to be explored by all of us, given what has been going on in the world. I plan to spend more time working with this Precept as well.

Fourth Precept

The tough one – abstaining from false and malicious speech. This one was a bit of a mixed bag. I did actually spend some time working with this Precept throughout the month. It’s a difficult one to undertake, but is also one of the most accessible, due to the fact that we all speak quite a bit everyday.

Over the last month, I’ve observed how much I talk about other people. I haven’t ever really considered myself to be a gossip or someone who talks about other people behind their back, but in watching my speech more closely, I noticed that I do actually talk about others quite a bit. Sometimes it’s joining in a conversation about someone, and sometimes I initiate it. This is especially problematic in cases where it involves people I work with. I manage a team of people, and I realized that even off-handed comments about my staff can be damaging. I am beginning to more often take a moment before speaking to examine whether what I am about to say is appropriate, but I know this will be a longterm project.

Fifth Precept

I probably spent more time working with the Fifth Precept than any other. This Precept involves abstaining from intoxicants. From a surface perspective, I did not drink or use marijuana during the last month. This was actually a powerful experience, especially as I was dealing with some difficult emotions. I found that removing the option to numb myself with substances greatly impacted how present I was with my emotions. Additionally, I slept better and felt more clear headed, which made my morning meditation a much more focused experience.

I also explored the idea of using my meditation practice as an intoxicant, and practiced mindfulness in this area. I also recognized early on that I can often use technology as an intoxicant by spending hours watching Netflix or playing video games, as well as by allowing myself to get sucked into mindlessly scrolling through Twitter or Instagram. I actually found staying away from alcohol to be far easier than remaining mindful with my social media use.

I have decided that I intend to keep my use of alcohol and marijuana to a minimum moving forward, although I am not completely eliminating them at this point. I plan to only drink when I am with other people, and to limit myself to one or two drinks in those situations. I want to keep a close eye on this, however, to see how this fits on me. If even small amounts of drinking are going to inhibit my practice, I don’t find that a worthwhile trade.

I don’t consider the end of this project to really be an end at all. I plan to continue to explore and practice with all five of the Precepts, but in a more organic way. I feel like this project was a good way for me to launch a more serious practice in this area, and I can honestly say that I experienced a great deal of insight over the last month. I look forward to continuing to follow this path and seeing where it leads.

Feeling Gratitude For Suffering

A couple of weeks ago there was a video that was making the rounds on social media from an interview that Anderson Cooper did with Stephen Colbert on CNN. The video was one of the most genuine human interactions that I’ve ever seen on television. Both Cooper and Colbert have had to deal with a lot of pain during their lifetimes, stemming from loss that they suffered when they were young. I was moved to tears as I listened to these two men discuss grief and suffering.

In the video (which I have posted above and recommend you watch,) Anderson Cooper asks Colbert about a quote from a previous interview, in which he said that he had, “learned to love the thing that I most wish had not happened…,” and went on to say, “what punishment of gods are not gifts.” When asked if he really believed that, Colbert answered that he did, and beautifully stated why. “It’s a gift to exist and with existence comes suffering. There’s no escaping that.”

I have had an (almost) daily practice of journaling for a little while now, which I always begin with listing three things that I am grateful for. It feels weird to list a painful experience on a gratitude list, but part of the practice is to increase the scope of our awareness of what we can feel grateful for. One of the things that really stood out to me in the Colbert interview was when he said, “If you are grateful for your life…, you have to be grateful for all of it.” It doesn’t mean that we have to want those things to happen, but it is worth contemplating that it is only by an extraordinarily improbable and fortunate accident that we even exist at all, and a part of that gift of existence is suffering.

Photo freely given by JORGE LOPEZ on Unsplash

There are two specific aspects of this idea of gratitude for our suffering that I have been thinking about recently. One of them is compassion and empathy. Our suffering can add a layer of understanding of what other people are going through. When we are willing and able to discuss our suffering, it can also create a safe place for others to open up about what they are going through. Stephen Colbert puts this really well in the interview –

“What do you get from loss? You get awareness of other people’s loss, which allows you to connect with that other person, which allows you to love more deeply and to understand what it’s like to be a human being if it’s true that all humans suffer.”

Stephen Colbert

The second aspect of gratitude for suffering that has been on my mind is the growth that our suffering can bring about. Although I wouldn’t put my experience on the same level as the trauma that Stephen Colbert and Anderson Cooper are discussing, I have experienced suffering from the loss of my marriage over the last couple of years. As painful as that experience has been, the last year has been the most productive period of growth in my life. I can honestly say that I would not have experienced that growth without the suffering that I endured. My experience lead me to examine my life and to seek insight into what had happened and how I could skillfully deal with my pain.

The act of gratitude toward those experiences that are painful is counterintuitive, and it isn’t easy, especially before we have had time to put some distance between ourselves and the source of our pain. It is, however, a practice of tremendous love toward ourselves and toward others. We acknowledge the miracle of our existence, and the gift of everything that comes with it. We free ourselves to move forward in acceptance. We make ourselves available to serve other people, all of whom share in the suffering inherent in being human.

On Tyler Durden and Identification With Things

Warning – I wanted to give a heads up that this post includes a couple of f-bombs, in case anyone is offended by such things.

fight club soap

You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis.

Tyler Durden, Fight Club

Identities are a tricky things. The way that we identify ourselves can come from a variety of sources, from genetics and biology, to upbringing and cultural factors, to our jobs, to the identities other people foist upon us. There are countless points of origin for the various pieces that create this person that we view as ourself. I want to look at one specific aspect of this today, and that is the identity that we cultivate based on our things.

For better or for worse, one of the formative works of fiction in my early twenties was Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club. I had already begun developing an interest in philosophy when I first read Fight Club, so I was immediately taken by the obvious nods toward Nietzschean nihilism. There’s a lot that I could say here about the fact that me discussing the philosophy of Fight Club in my twenties was also a vehicle for identity creation/reinforcement, but that’s a story for another day.

There are a lot of quotable lines in Fight Club, but the phrase that probably most often runs through my head to this day is, “you are not your fucking khakis.” This line is the punctuation of the longer quote above, and it’s a pretty simple distillation of one of the repeating themes of the book, that the things we own will end up owning us.

If you have read my recent posts, you know that I have been purging a lot of my possessions recently, in pursuit of a more minimalist lifestyle. There are a lot of reasons why I have chosen to do this, but one of the motivations stems from a process that began a little over a year ago, when I began studying Buddhism and started to ask myself questions about this person that I viewed myself to be.

hop tattoo

Early on in this exploration, I began to think about the identity that I was cultivating in my job and with the clothes that I wore. I manage a craft beer and wine bar, and I have always taken a lot of pride in having a carefully curated selection that included a lot of product that I actually drive across the state to procure. I would say that a lot of us take on identities based on our jobs, as they are such a large part of the way we spend our lives. I had definitely begun to build an identity based on the work that I was doing, and would always revel in the moments where people would recognize how hard I worked to bring them beer that they couldn’t get anywhere else. To further state my craft beer bone fides, I had a collection of t-shirts from all of the most hyped breweries in the northwest, and I would eat it up when someone would recognize the brewery and say something that would allow me to explain that I just tapped a keg from them that I drove 8 hours round trip to purchase. I even got a tattoo with hops flowing from a beer tap, lest there still be any doubt about what a beer guy I was.

The more time went on, the more I began to explore my attachment to this identity. Was this really who I was? Was it even really the thing that I wanted to define me? I thought about how hard I was working to maintain this identity. I reflected on how upset I got when one of my competitors got a beer in that I didn’t have, because it challenged my identity as “the guy who brings in beers nobody else has.” I was also spending a lot of time and money on the protection of this identity, which I could have been spending on things that were really more important. I realized that there was suffering and a kind of bondage in the maintenance of this identity.

This was really the contemplation that lead to my original round of minimizing. Several months ago, I went through my closet and got rid of most of my brewery shirts. It wasn’t that I thought that there was a problem with owning them, it was just that I had made the decision to stop basing my identity on this aspect of my life, and I felt like these shirts were not really serving me in this. I kept a couple of my favorite shirts, but got rid of all the rest. Not only did I find freedom in letting go of this attachment to my identity, I also found a sense of relief in the simple act of trimming my wardrobe down.

my book shelf
The tip of my book iceberg

The last couple of weeks, as I have been going through all of my things to decide what I will be taking with me in my upcoming move, I have done a major purge on my book collection. This has been the biggest project thus far in my minimalist journey. We had, literally, 100s of books. I love to read, so over the years I have accumulated a lot of them. My book purchases have covered a number of different phases, from my existentialist philosophy phase, to a brief flirtation with the idea of starting a small scale sustainable farm. As I went through the process of deciding on the handful of books that I would keep, I realized that my book collection had also served to establish an identity. I have always thought of myself as well-read, and having several bookshelves full of books confirmed that to myself, and to anyone who came into my home. Deciding to get rid of most of these books felt like a profound act of letting go. Letting go of maintaining an idea of my self, and accepting a more spacious and meaningful existence.

There is nothing wrong with owning, and even enjoying things. I still find a lot of joy in reading, and even in owning, a nice book. I just believe that we expose ourselves to a lot of unnecessary anxiety and suffering when we create an identity based on our possessions. I have found that paying attention to the relationship that we have with our things is a really important part of living a happy and meaningful life. Are we viewing our things in ways that promote satisfaction and wellbeing, or are we dependent on them to give us meaning? Our things are impermanent, and the satisfaction that they bring is even more ephemeral. Our meaning can never be truly based on such a precarious foundation. We are not our things. We are not our fucking khakis.

Speak the Dharma At All Times

I am guy who immerses himself in his passions. This can be a double edged sword. It has served me well in develop a lot of skills and interests, but it can also make me a little obtuse sometimes when I’m talking to other people. If I’m not mindful, I can rattle on endlessly about whatever I’m into, only to look up at some point and find the person I’m talking to completely checked out or doing the polite nod and smile thing. My contemplation on the Precepts this month has me thinking about this habit from a new perspective.

After my Attachment to Broken Things post earlier this week, I had a person respond to a retweet, defending their attachment to a car they had, and stating their intention to keep an old car that held some memories for them. I had a hard time deciding how to respond to this. First, it was pretty clear to me that they hadn’t actually read the post, as I never advocated getting rid of things just because they had emotional significance. My primary thought, however, was to try to talk to them about the dangers of attachment and clinging. I have personally experienced how much suffering our attachment to all of these impermanent things can cause, and I sincerely want to help other people escape suffering. I typed out and erased several responses, before finally deciding that this person was not really in the market for a Dharma lesson. In the end I just responded with the following –

After this internal wrestling match, I posted one of those tweets that is basically me workshopping my thoughts in front of the Twitterverse, and my friend Duane Toops offered a really great paraphrase of St. Francis of Assisi –

I think this is as beautiful when applied to the Dharma as it was when St. Francis applied it to the Gospel. I think that I was right in deciding that the situation I was working through was not an appropriate time for trying to hammer home a point about the Dharma. In being mindful that my words would not have been useful or timely, I believe that I was acting in keeping with the Dharma. Maybe there was a way for me to illustrate my thoughts on attachment in a skillful way, but nothing came to me that didn’t feel preachy or condescending, so refraining in that moment still seemed like the right move.

One of the ways that I have been working with the Fourth Precept, is to try to listen more and speak less. In my enthusiasm to talk about something that excites me, I have often been guilty of hearing people without listening to them. Engaging in conversation without truly listening to others makes our words self-serving and ineffectual. When we actively listen to the person across the table or screen from us, we become more aware of what words are actually useful. I have also observed an increase in feelings of compassion and empathy toward other people through more purposeful listening. We live in a time where many of us are starved for meaningful connection, which can only be found through being truly present for others.

As I mentioned in my initial Precept Project post on the Forth Precept, speech might be the most challenging Precept to practice. As with all of the precepts, the key is in being more mindful in our day to day life. Speaking the Dharma is largely done by living mindfully, and through that mindfulness we can recognize when it is also necessary to use words.

Impermanence in the Park

I felt the weight pressing down on me, the burden of everything that I hadn’t fully processed beginning to hit me. There was no one thing that I could point to that could explain why I was feeling this way. “I’m so sad,” I kept silently repeating to myself. The little stresses that arose at work only made me feel worse. Periodically checking Twitter, only to see another heartbreaking piece of news in my feed, was certainly not helping the mood. “I’m so sad, and I’m lonely.”

I closed my eyes and tried to focus on what I was feeling. My heart felt like someone had tethered a stone to it. My eyes had that not-quite-crying feeling, the pre-cursor of the breakdown that was just waiting for the right shoe to drop before the floodgates rushed open. I sat for a few minutes, telling myself I was just being with my emotions, but really I just wanted the feelings to go away. I decided that I needed to go for a walk.

I locked the door of the shop and walked out onto the trail that winds through the park and into downtown. As I walked, the voice inside continued it’s repetitive mantra, “I’m so sad.” I knew that this wasn’t useful. I turned my attention to my thoughts, observing them as they arose. The phrase came to my mind again, but this time I remembered something that I had heard recently about the fact that we will say, “I AM sad,” when what we really mean is, “I am FEELING sad.” I thought about this for a moment, and realized that I had spent all morning creating this sad and lonely me in my head. “What I feel in this moment is not who I am,” I told myself, “and it doesn’t mean I will feel this way in the next moment, let alone the next day, or week.”

park bench
Photo freely given by Will Paterson on Unsplash

I continued my walk, making my way into the park. I continued to observe my thoughts and feelings as I walked. My realization had not caused my sadness to disappear, but I did notice that what I had viewed as being a steady sadness was actually a fluctuating field of emotions. True, the overall color of my mood had been melancholy, but it changed with the various conditions of the day. I listened to the sound of children playing in the fountain and felt a slight warmth at their enjoyment. There was a group of young musicians, sitting along a brick wall, a makeshift band with two guitarists and a percussionist beating an upside down bucket. I listened for a moment, and smiled. I continued walking and saw an elderly couple, walking hand-in-hand, and felt a bittersweetness at the thought of enduring love contrasted against the ending of my marriage.

I observed each of these internal changes as I walked, recognizing the impermanence of each as they shifted. I thought about the effects of the various causes and conditions that held sway over my mind and heart. I felt a tinge of joy briefly emerge at this moment of understanding, then disappear just as quickly.

Today I met some friends for lunch, and one of them asked me how I was doing. “I’m doing okay today,” I told him. “It just depends on when you ask me. Some days are better than others.” This is true, but it’s not the whole truth. Each moment dies and gives birth to a new one. There are moments of feeling sadness, and there are moments of feeling joy. There are moments of feeling lonely, and there are moments of feeling connected to everything. The important thing is to be in each moment.

Awakening to Nature

I haven’t always loved hiking. I have tried to at various points in my life. I spent some time in Denver back in the 90s, and I remember buying boots to hike in, but I mostly just wore them as part of the Colorado uniform. I think I loved the idea of hiking, but wasn’t so much into the actual reality of hiking. A few years ago, that slowly started to change, and I now find getting out on the trail to be one of my favorite ways to reconnect with myself and with the world around me.

hiking with headphones
Hiking with headphones

I first started hiking the trails around Spokane about three years ago as a part of a big exercise kick. I liked it more than running, and there are an amazing amount of trails nearby. I wouldn’t say that I initially got much connection to nature out of hiking. I mean, there was always something about the views that I would connect to, but I would always have my headphones in when I would hike, always listening to a book or a podcast. In fact, I just went for a hike on a trail yesterday that I can remember listening to my first book about meditation on a little over a year ago. During this period, I began to really enjoy hiking, but it wasn’t until I began my mindfulness practice that I took the headphones out and developed a true love for being in nature.

Prior to discovering meditation and mindfulness, I obsessively avoided moments that were free of stimulation. I always had to be listening to something, watching something, playing something, reading something, or doing something. In fact, most of the time, I refused to limit myself to a single thing. In hindsight, I can see that I was afraid to be alone with silence, because that would be the moment that I would have to deal with my thoughts. In meditation, I found that I actually could sit in silent stillness and be okay. As I dug deeper into mindfulness, I found that I could actually experience a lot of joy in doing one thing at a time, and engaging fully with that one thing. This discovery was so revelatory to me that I wanted to keep following the path deeper to see what I would find.

One of my favorite local trails is about a nine mile loop that has an amazing variety of scenery, and culminates in a beautiful waterfall at the top of the trail. When I first decided to hike this trail without my headphones, I was actually a little worried that I would freak out about the silence over the course of the relatively long hike. Instead, I found that the combination of my recent mindfulness practice and the lack of superfluous stimuli helped me to experience things that I hadn’t noticed on my previous times on the trail. I heard the songs of numerous bird species, smelled the various aromas of the forest, and observed little white butterflies flitting around the floor of the trail. Not only that, but my practice of mindful breathing was helping me to take the initial steps toward a presence in my body that I had never had (On first hearing the James Joyce line, “Mr. Duffy lived a short distance from his body,” I was sure that it had been written specifically about me.)

There is a quote from meditation and Dharma teacher, Mark Coleman, that really resonates with what I experienced as I opened myself to being more present in my time outdoors. Coleman says, “Nature teaches us simplicity, because in its presence we realize we need very little to be happy.” We have so many tools that we use to distance ourselves from the natural world. There are many benefits that we get from our technology, but we have also learned to cling to it as a mechanism for our happiness. The problem is, whatever happiness we derive from our various distractions is fleeting, a hungry ghost that requires that we constantly consume more and more to keep the buzz going. Being in nature strips that away and shows us that, however nice our modern technologies are, they are not essential for our happiness.

nature simplicity

Yesterday, as I walked the trail, I allowed my awareness to open to whatever was arising around me. The field of sensation was so rich, and I thought back to how much of this I would have missed in the past. It made me feel grateful to truly be there in that moment, hearing, seeing, smelling, feeling, and simply being.

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