The following are excerpts from writings of some of the teachers who have been important to me in my own practice of Mindfulness. I have done long retreats with some of them and participated in trainings with others.
From Wherever You Go There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn: Meditation does not involve trying to change your thinking by thinking some more. It involves watching thought itself. By watching your thoughts without being drawn into them, you can learn something profoundly liberating about thinking itself, which may help you to be less of a prisoner of those thought patterns which are narrow, and habitual to the point of being imprisoning.
From Silence by Christina Feldman: Silence teaches us about awareness. It is the forerunner to the capacity to travel new pathways in our heart and life. We are learning to still the turbulence of our minds. Calming our minds, we begin to calm our world. Silence is an art that asks for attention and dedication.
From Not Always So by Shunryu Suzuki: So, the state in which one begins meditation is not so much to aim for some great enlightenment or goal but rather to discover the mystery of awareness and presence that’s possible just here and now.
From Path with Heart by Jack Kornfield: We can discover an inner sense of spaciousness, unity and compassion underneath all the conflicting thoughts. The heart allows for the stories and ideas, the fantasies and fears of the mind without believing in them, without having to follow them or having to fulfill them. When we touch beneath all the busyness of thought, we discover a sweet, healing silence, an inherent peacefulness in each of us, a goodness of heart, strength and wholeness.
The development of awareness in meditation allows us to become mindful enough or conscious enough to recognize our heart and intentions as we go through the day.
From The Listening Mind by Ram Dass: In meditation, we see that there is a continuous stream of thoughts going on all the time. Meditation may be frustrating if we think we can stop this process right away. We can’t. But by penetrating and observing it, we can free ourselves from being carried away by our thoughts.
From Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There by Sylvia Boorstein: Mindfulness meditation doesn’t change life. Life remains as fragile and unpredictable as ever. Meditation changes the heart’s capacity to accept life as it is.
From True Meditation by Adyashanti: I started to meditate in a different way. I let go of the idea of what meditation was supposed to be. So I would sit down and let my experience simply be, in a very deep way. I started to let go of trying to control my experience. That became the beginning of discovering for myself what true meditation is.
From True Refuge by Tara Brach: I think of freedom as our capacity to be openhearted and awake and have some spaciousness in the midst of whatever is unfolding. …When we attend to the moment-to-moment flow of experience, and recognize what’s happening…fully allowing it, not adding judgment or commentary, then we are cultivating a mindful awareness.
From Start Where You Are by Pema Chodron: True compassion does not come from wanting to help out those less fortunate than ourselves but from realizing our kinship with all beings.
From Peace Is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh: If we are not fully ourselves, truly in the present moment, we miss everything.
From The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama: Whenever I meet people I always approach them from the standpoint of the most basic things we have in common. … which allows me to have a feeling that I’m meeting someone just the same as me.
From Faith - Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience by Sharon Salzberg: Awareness: directly seeing what is happening, without the intrusion of bias, without holding onto or pushing away any experience.
From Mindfulness of Mind an article by Gil Fronsdal: By focusing on simply being aware, we learn to disentangle ourselves from our habitual reactions and begin to have a friendlier and more compassionate relationship with our experience, with ourselves and with others.
From Kitchen Table Wisdom by Rachel Naomi Remen: Listening creates a holy silence. When you listen generously to people, they can hear the truth in themselves, often for the first time. And when you listen deeply, you can know yourself in everyone.
In the last several years, there has been a tremendous amount of research on Mindfulness and the brain. These studies show the benefits for us physically, emotionally and mentally. Below is a link for a description of a study done a few years ago. This research is cited in many medical and science professional journals and many more research projects are duplicating this kind of study using neural imaging (which “proves” the subjects’ self reporting of changes). What’s most relevant to our class is that research shows: Mindfulness practice yields benefits after only a brief period of daily meditation.