Thursday, January 15, 2009

Open Range

It occurred to me in the middle of the night that what I've been learning, practicing and doing regularly while in the equine workshops and otherwise, has been a mindfulness practice - basically being present with all that is, not judging, not trying to change it, just being with whatever emotions and sensations that arise and allowing them to just be. This was not new to me and I've worked with this on-and-off for years, but never to this extent. What was new to me was the revelation that this practice contradicted (for me) a pure pursuit of happiness, AND more importantly that I would much rather engage the world with a mindfulness practice, than with a search for joy.

In contrast to a life in pursuit of happiness, mindfulness provides a fuller, more vibrant, real and authentic way of being in the world, whereas the practice of searching for happiness tends to downgrade, ignore, repress or avoid the unpleasant. Based on my experiences within the workshops here, the soul craves authenticity and fullness of expression. And, whenever experiences are not felt and dealt with, they remain trapped within the body. This can cause health issues and, it seems, repeated similar situations until the issue and attached emotions are acknowledged and allowed to be expressed.

Being present with your pain, also allows joy to be more intense. And on the flip-side, ignoring the unpleasant can make the happy moments more flat.

It's as if when you decide to shed your layers of protection and are present with the full range of what is, your vulnerability becomes both a strength and weakness, which is very human and is all our soul asks of us.

Being mindful does not mean that one needs to stay obssessed with their pain or their joy, as when you're being mindful, you'll notice how quickly emotions and body sensations are constantly changing. Being mindful of your body's sensations and emotions (as opposed to the mind chatter) is just a more true barometer of what is going on for you.

I've thought about how the landscape here parallels this way of being in the world. The openess, big skies, vistas for 90 miles in all directions - some beautiful, breathtaking, some dangerous, and some flat - just like life and just like the views from the Buffalo Woman Ranch.