Mt. Awareness

May 04, 2022

 

You climb the mountain to be able to look over the whole situation, not bound by one side or the other.
---Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching
 
Isn’t this a wonderful image to describe the vantage point we gain in yoga?
 
We ascend to a more expansive vista within our minds. There, we can observe ourselves and the contours of our lives with the freedom afforded by a broader vision and a healthy bit of detachment. 
 
Meditation isn’t necessarily about quieting your mind; it’s about developing a new relationship with your mind. That’s what the view from the mountaintop is, a perspective that’s bigger than what our minds might tend to tell us. 
 
The first step is becoming self-aware. As we hone our self-reflective capacity - that distinctly human ability to know what we’re thinking - we gain a more spacious (and probably wiser) outlook on ourselves and our lives.  
 
We become temporarily free from the confines of our thoughts, opinions, beliefs, or even the usual ways we define ourselves. We rise above the divisiveness and constriction of ordinary awareness and look out from that all-encompassing view that contains everything yet remains unaffected by it.
 
This alone has the potential to shift how you act and how you are in the world. But there’s more. Because the view from the mountaintop doesn’t just stay there. Each time you notice your thoughts in meditation and bring yourself back to your breath or your chosen object of focus, you strengthen the muscle of your self-awareness,  what meditation teacher Dan Harris calls a “bicep curl for the brain.”
 
When you come down from the climb, as it were, and move on with your day, that spacious perspective is still possible, isn’t it? The self-awareness you build through your practice stays with you. You can use it to live with greater consciousness and equanimity.

 

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