Our contact with our environment is always contact with body, speech, and mind. Think of an escalating fight: first we see irritation in people’s faces, then they start speaking, soon louder and louder. And if no good solution is found, sometimes we might have to step in to prevent the worst.
In the same way we can observe the opposite chain reaction. After a challenging situation we might feel very tense in the body. We can sit down next to a friend in a comfortable chair and consciously relax our body, maybe talk about our troubles. Then we feel more calm and open and have access to a more reflective mind again.
We might think meditation is mainly about our mind. However, in meditation we practice letting our body, speech, and mind return to their natural, unbothered, unperturbed states; that is, to sitting at rest in stillness and silence. Body, speech, and mind are all involved.
Maybe it feels difficult to know where to start if we want to live in a more meditative way, because our body might be both exhausted and tense, maybe even in pain; our mind is very jumpy; and our mouth seems to open automatically.
It’s true that most of us can notice a high level of reactivity inside, and physically we might have the habit of using our body in a careless way day by day. We are caught in habits and our routines can seem to stay the same for years. How can we begin to find more awareness in that?
We can! Our body with all of its senses allows us to take in new and different information moment by moment: what we see, hear, smell and what we sense with our body. We are always free to choose one of these senses, one poignant and clear sensation, and just be aware of that for some time. This focus reconnects us with our body, helps move us towards more presence, and usually allows us to feel a bit calmer. This is available in every moment.
Our speech is a very powerful yet also unpredictable instrument. We might say something that is very helpful for someone and we can also cause pain. We can’t always know what will have positive or negative effects. But the more we engage our awareness both in speaking and in being silent, the better we can sense what might be good to say and what not.
Our mind is perhaps the most challenging aspect to be aware of. Like a slippery bar of soap, it can fly out of our grasp at enormous speed. However, this is the place where everything starts. There is a slight tendency or orientation inside us; and this can concretize into an opinion which we then express with words or actions. This makes it so valuable to learn to be aware of our mind’s movements. This is the place where early on, we can notice minor tendencies and make conscious choices for the better.
If we’d like to integrate more meditative elements into our lives, then the awareness and training of body, speech, and mind are very accessible places to start. In this context I like the following quote by HH Karmapa Orgyen Trinley Dorje:
“Speak and act with care. Think before you speak or act. Otherwise, you may create unnecessary problems. Consider your own abilities, where the situation at hand may be heading, and how your actions and speech will affect other people. If you can clearly see all these factors, then nothing you do or say can cause too much harm.”
Enjoy a peaceful week,