Tag Archives: awareness

TENDING THE GARDEN: Five Inner Arts or Practices (Part I)

 Mindfulness is tending the garden of your soul.  It is tending the garden through your attention, through your awareness, the efforts of your intention, the persistence, the remembrance, the vigilance, the care. Daily, like a gardener, you return to the garden. 

 Any word that works for you, that awakens a watchfulness inside you can be used as your reminder. Instead of mindfulness, you can use awareness, you can use witnessing, being attentive, awakening, a quality inside that by virtue of your remembrance again becomes active and lights up. It’s almost as if you are a guard at the watchtower and you remember to wake up and do your work. And the mindfulness is a total, complete attention. It is not simply a faculty of the mind and thinking. It is a deep witnessing presence – a global attention from and to deeper and deeper places within you.

 The source of our attention is a wonderful thing to track inside and it ultimately leads us to a mystery. It leads us to inner doors. And presence — the way I am using presence — is the natural growth and availability of the garden. Just as you are in this very moment, there’s a certain amount of presence within you, available to you. You’ve cleared so much of the garden and you can rest within that circumference. That is the presence that is now available to you. It is available to you at any moment in your life when you remember to turn it on, to light it up with attention and mindfulness.

 Please remember these words are just signposts to lead us inside. The experience is what matters. The reality inside is the important matter. Presence indicates, for me, the garden of your inner being, the garden of your soul, now in this moment, accessible and available to you. It is common and natural that there are certain obstructions and barriers to the expanse of your being and this may take some work, some tending. You may have to roll your sleeves up and do a bit of clearing so that your available presence grows and becomes more expansive. Like a garden our inner nature grows naturally when provided a healthy ground and soil and does not flourish when crowded out of its natural habitat or deprived of necessary nutrients.

 The way this teaching assists and helps in growing your conscious presence of this wonderful ground of being is through engaging you in five inner arts or practices. Each of these arts helps establish a deep sense of presence throughout the expanse of your life, thereby allowing you to naturally grow in your own authentic and essential potentiality.


 I- Art of Meditation

 Through the art of meditation you learn to focus and center yourself inwards, beginning to quiet the mind and settle into the deeper regions of your awareness, ultimately settling more into your essential authentic self. You cultivate time in your life to turn your attention, your mindfulness, upon various inner experiences such as your breath, your body sensations, thoughts, moods and eventually the very source of your attention.

 An inner sense of awareness begins to grow that becomes the core of your presence. Your meditation begins to reveal the source of the being that is within you that is always here, always available. This anchoring of your attention in your inner being provides a sort of pilot light of presence ready to integrate into your everyday life.

 As you explore meditation you will discover there are many methods and many approaches. The central method in this work is directing your mindfulness, your full and complete attention, to various inner experiences beginning with the body. Spend some time simply being mindful of the body – the sensations, the breath, the sounds, all aspects of your physical experience. Simply be attentive – tend to the body with your attention.

 Next, direct your mindfulness towards watching the mind, watching the thoughts, watching the activity inside the mind and the brain. You are not changing anything. You are just being mindful of mental activity, just witnessing, paying attention to every thought, to every movement, to every distraction, to every leaving each moment that you leave and every return as you come back. So as a tender, a gardener, be patient with yourself and with the power of your mindfulness bring yourself back.

 Next, for a while guide your mindfulness towards your emotional self, noticing any feelings, any moods, not changing them, but watching. You are simply allowing whatever the inner weather is like to be observed and held by your mindfulness.

 And then with your mindfulness you go to the depths, to the sources, to the very ground of your being, which meets exactly at the place that is the ground of your attention, the ground of your mindfulness. You are establishing your witnessing presence. Allow your presence to sink inside the soil, to go deep within your being. Rest and replenish yourself in your own rich sources and witness as your soul begins to effortlessly flower some of its essence.


 II- Daily Mindfulness

 Another practice we call daily mindfulness. I also call it the daily practice of presence. It is going through your everyday normal world with a commitment to be mindful as much through the day as you can remember, knowing that your attention will leave, will get caught up into events. But as you remember throughout your day, let that pilot light of your presence be there to support the action, providing an engaged presence. This is not going to take away from the work that you need to produce. Actually, this is going to enable you to be more present as you are carrying those actions out, as you are living through all the minutes of your day. You will be practicing the beloved and challenging art of not abandoning yourself while engaged in daily living.

 This in no way means that to be mindful you have to go through the day looking like the meditator, somber and detached from all of life, lost in the gaze of your own navel. Your vital core of life force comes with you and you have the opportunity to engage life with your complete totality, with your full potential. Presence can be salty, spontaneous, irreverent, sensual, and full of humor as well as sacred, peaceful, creative and service-oriented. Folks, presence can be juicy and fun! It needs no masks, no faces. You simply maintain awareness. You simply remain true to your authentic presence.

(Part II will cover three inner arts: Dialogue, Inquiry and Creativity)



Establish this inner home as the place where you reside

 One of the first steps in understanding presence is the theme of returning to the self, a return home. Now, what does that mean – returning to the self? It means gathering your attention, beginning to be aware and present to all aspects of the self. Presence is learning to abide in any given situation with an inner sense of awareness in this moment. To do so there has to be a beginning step of returning some of your attention back to your source – a focusing and centering of attention back to your home. We call this conscious use of attention mindfulness.

What we are going to call the home is nothing more than the sense of being within you. The capacity to be is the home. With mindfulness you return your attention, settling back in as close to the source of your being as possible, thus beginning to grow the presence of being. This is also the beginning of our first practice – meditation; establishing this inner home as the place where you reside as you live life.

Inasmuch as that is not happening means that your attention, your focus, your investment of energy has abandoned the home. It is as if you have a beautiful estate home that has several rooms that are all a part of your joy of living. You have a music room with a beautiful mahogany piano; you have a study filled with your favorite books and a place to study and write; you have an open kitchen filled with wonderful foods; a gathering room for family and community; a sun and garden room to enjoy light and flowers. You have this wonderful estate home and yet you stay away from it. You live your life away from the home.

The inner world of our being is a beautiful estate home. And many of us only live on the porch, when we actually make it there! To actually come in, to enter, and to begin to live inside this home of being is an art. This art can be learned and it is a learning that never ends. The art can be mastered to a degree, yet as long as you are living, this art has ever opening and deepening possibilities. There is no end to this creation.

This abandonment from our home represents a schism, a split of attention that relinquishes our inner world for the demands and dynamics of the outer world. This schism, or split, appears to be a necessary step in the human evolutionary story as it looks like it happens to all. In order to survive the environments we find ourselves, it looks as though we are frightened out of the presence of being. We become separated from our source, or at least it appears so since we are no longer attentive or aware of our source.

The being is the estate home of the soul. Getting settled back into the home, returning and ending this abandonment of the self allows us to begin to rediscover the richness of our inner world. We realize that the source has never left us and is always awaiting our return and recognition.

Presence is residing within our inner home and yet being able and available to fully live this moment in the world. We have wonderful inner resources within as we face the challenges of life. We find courage to face fears, resolve to endure hardship, and strength to make needed changes. We may find a new access to creativity, authenticity, contentment and peace. And we find the source of dialogue, community and communion, and simply the joy of moving through life with a strong and centered sense of presence.