In meditation we learn to master our awareness. The mind is a powerful thing, a think tank that never stops. When we meditate we are confronted with the products of this ceaseless mind engine: thoughts.
Thoughts approach our awareness like vendors selling their wares on Black Friday, sales people lobbying for our attention. And just like the freedom we exercise to buy or not to buy, we have the inner ability to attach or not attach to a thought. If we attach we spend our inner capital, our energy, on the thought by giving it our attention, letting it unfold and journeying with it wherever it may take us. If we don’t attach we store our energy in deepening silence. When we surrender our awareness to the activity of the mind, we drift along on a current of free association, floating from thought to thought, our awareness completely captured by a mind-constructed world of thoughts.
With mindfulness we learn to exercise our innate freedom to attach or not to attach to thought. We learn to simply notice the inner lobbyists of thought, and choose not to attend to their wares. We decide to bring our awareness instead to our bodies—to our breathing, or to the sensations we notice as we scan our bodies in this moment.
When thoughts of varying intensities vie for our awareness, we notice them. We don’t struggle with them; we simply bring our awareness back to our bodies. In an instant we feel the vibration in our fingers or lips, or hear the sound of energy deep within our ears. We breathe; we are present. We judge nothing; there is nothing to judge.
Judgment engages the mind. It quantifies, rates, categorizes, etc. With mindfulness everything is equal, the same—no judgment, no distinction. Everything just is and we are fully present with what is without attachment.
Mastering awareness is staying present with what is, and freely, consciously, choosing where to place attention. We are no longer adrift on the sea without a paddle; we volitionally place our awareness where we want it.
If we are eating, we are not reading or watching—we are fully present in eating, in chewing, in tasting, with awareness. If we are walking, we walk without purpose or destination—we are fully present in our bodies, slowly feeling the sensation of connecting to the earth beneath us.
The shamans of Carlos Castaneda’s lineage practice magical passes to achieve inner silence. Fully mindful in their bodies, they engage the intent of inner silence and move in patterns discovered by shamans of antiquity during dreaming. These shamans don’t worry if they are doing the movements correctly. They suspend judgment and mindfully move. They know intent alone will correct the movements; they don’t fall for the tricks of the cogitating mind that seeks to interfere with the flow of silence.
Practicers of mindfulness and practitioners of shamanism alike are gentle but persevering in their practices. They know, as the I Ching so often states: perseverance furthers. Eventually, the mind desists and we become masters of awareness, fully engaged in our journeys. Without mind we experience total freedom.
Silence the mind, journey in infinity!