Mindfulness and investigation

In a conversation I had with my friend Glen, I was struck by how he described mindfulness as a good friend. For me and my patterns (of perfectionism and self-hate), that kind of framing of mindfulness was just so different and novel that it left an impression on me. And in the most recent silent meditation retreat I sat, I was able to explore that perspective: of mindfulness (i.e., awareness) as something that is caring rather than a state that means I’m failing if I’m not constantly in. 😂

What I found was that mindfulness can be seen as a tool, rather than an end in and of itself. And in particular, mindfulness was the tool that allowed me to investigate karma. Karma refers to the law of cause and effect, which is something you can directly observe with enough mindfulness.

Somehow, I found the investigation of karma to be exhilarating. I saw somehow because “exhilarating” may be a surprising way to think of someone’s experience on retreat. But it was! It was actually amazing to witness habitual thoughts arise in my mind and look in my body to see the energy blockages that caused them, and then to turn my attention to the energy blockages themselves and work through them. It was also really fun (and new to me) to intentionally think a thought or cultivate a certain kind of breath and see what happened as a result. Sometimes I would notice myself getting, e.g., drowsy as a result.

I love this new way of looking at spiritual and psycho-emotional practices—as helpful tools (and friends) rather than some kind of oppressive thing that “I must do.” This perspective helps bring forth my genuine motivations for walking the path.

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