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Laura V. Hyde Gifts of the Soul
Fall 2009
by Laura Grace

Gifts of the Soul by Laura Hyde
Gifts of the Soul

The Art of Mindfulness

Sylvia Boorstein once wrote, “Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn't more complicated than that. It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it”. How often we find ourselves not being present, resisting the present moment when we dislike what we’re feeling.

Mindfulness entails being fully present. Mindfulness requires being conscious of what is going on inside of us as well as around us. Mindfulness means being aware of what we are feeling and how our bodies are reacting.   

Right now, take a moment to notice where you are placing your attention.  You may be reading these words yet also aware of your environment. You might also be aware of some mental chattering taking place. See if you can be in touch with your inner self at the same time. Maintain a portion of your focus within. Don’t let it all flow out. Like a mighty tree, stay as deeply rooted within as much as possible. You can practice this wherever you are: standing in line, in a traffic delay, or waiting for an appointment. In fact, waiting can become quite enjoyable when practicing this technique.

I have also found this practice to be helpful when listening to others. It allows me to be mindful and provide deep listening, yet not "give away" all of my energy. It's a wonderful way to maintain a healthy energetic boundary. Investing our attention into the past or onto the future drains our energy, and eventually, we become energetically “bankrupt.”  Our subtle energy body loses life force, or prana, and our emotional and physical bodies suffer as a result.

In Buddhism, there are three spiritual powers that require the art of mindfulness and have the capacity to generate genuine happiness for ourselves and others.

The first power is the ability to cut off our afflictions — to sever our passions, hatred, and despair. Thich Nhat Hanh states, “If we cannot cut off passion and hatred, we cannot ever have happiness. We can learn concrete practices to do this. Once we sever the ties of passion and hatred that bind us, we become light and free and spacious.” 

The second power is the power of insight — in Buddhism it is called prajna. It is not the type of knowledge that we gain by reading books or learning in school. Knowledge can be helpful, but it can also become an obstacle. In Buddhism the only real career of a practitioner is insight. The insight of the Buddha and the boddhisattvas — what is called enlightenment — has the capacity to cultivate the qualities of compassion, loving kindness, and altruistic joy.

The third power in Buddhism is the capacity to forgive. When we develop the capacity to accept and to love, we do not need to hold onto resentments or be vindictive.  Genuine love manifests through the words we speak and the compassionate way we look at another. In the Lotus Sutra, the boddhisattva Avaloketisvara looks at all beings with compassion. Looking at all beings through the eyes of compassion is a wonderful way of behaving like the bodhisattva.

As we move into autumn, I invite you to take time to cultivate the art of mindfulness through the three spiritual powers: releasing judgment and hatred, gaining insight, and forgiving yourself and others. We can begin this process by practicing being present in this very moment. Henry Miller reminds us: "The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself."

© Copyright 2009 Laura Grace. All Rights Reserved.

 Laura's Books:

Gifts of the Soul by Laura Grace              The Intimate Soul by Laura Hyde

Read Laura's Past Columns:

Winter-2009 - "Faith-in-it As You Make It"

Summer-Fall 2008 - "Spiritual Imagineering: A Celebration of Life"

Winter-Spring 2008 - "Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives"

Summer 2007- "Making Room for Love"

Winter 2006-'07 - "Life’s Deepest Meaning: Teach Only Love"

Summer-Autumn 2006 - "The Courage to Be Happy"

Jan-Apr 2006 - "Turning Mistakes into Lessons"

Oct-Dec 2005 - "Be Still"

July-Sept 2005 - "Balancing Your Wheel of Life"

April-June 2005 - "Imaginary Borders"

January-March 2005 - "Witnessing the Truth About Your Life"

October-December 2004 - "Letting Go"

August-September 2004 - "Progressing with Passion"

June-July 2004 - "Deepening Your Spiritual Practice"

April-May 2004 - "Life's Crossroads: Love-vs-Fear"

January-February 2004 - "Faith the Foundation for Every Dream"

December 2003 Column - "Touching the Heart of Others"

November 2003 Column - "Knowing How to Care for Yourself"

October 2003 Column - "Dreaming a Happy Life"

May 2003 Column - "Living the Authentic Life"

April 2003 Column - "Rising Above the Battleground"

March  2003 Column - "Healing Through Your Relationships"

February 2003 Column - "Are You Going with the Flow?"

January 2003 Column - "Living the Soulful Life"

December 2002 Column - "The Power to Change"

November 2002 Column - "Peace Begins at Home"

October 2002 Column - "Spiraling to Higher Ground"

September 2002 Column - "Cradled in Nature's Arms"

August 2002 Column - "Recovering Your Soul"

Laura V. Hyde
Laura Grace
is the Spiritual Leader of the Circle of Spiritual Enlightenment in Central Coast California, and a national author and speaker. Laura provides spiritual counseling and offers numerous workshops and retreats for awakening the heart and spirit. She is also the author of the books Gifts of the Soul and The Intimate Soul and a syndicated columnist for more than twenty publications. Laura is the host of the show "Relationship Wisdom" on Public Access Television. Please visit Laura at: www.LauraGrace.net.

As a spiritual counselor, Laura provides assistance in person and by phone. You may contact her for a free brochure at: laura@lauragrace.net.





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