A radish-inspired mini-practice

Yesterday’s practice opens our minds to let reality act on us directly without too many thoughts and feelings and habits getting in the way. Trees and outdoor scenes are good for that because of their inherent richness and movement.

But the practice also brings awareness of the body and mind as just another part of the scene, and in that awareness there is relief.

Once you have a taste for it, this awareness can be rekindled throughout the day, in a kind of mini-practice. All it takes is to reach out with your attention onto something in your field of vision, and then be aware of your own body and mind as the observer of this thing.

To me it feels as if my awareness is going out away from my body towards the object. It feels like my awareness is now somewhere in between the object and my body/mind, and I am equally aware of both.

This awareness of the body and mind as being like external objects brings immediate relief. Why? Because the mind is now empty of contrived thoughts and intentions, worries and cares. The novelty of being aware of oneself from almost a third-person perspective immediately suspends first-person-based habits of thought and action. Like trying to brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand, it all feels new.

At the same time it demonstrates that you are more than your body and mind. Pure awareness comes to the fore and reveals itself. Pure awareness puts the body and the mind in their place.

And as the Daoist Zhuangzi repeatedly wrote: contrived thoughts and exertions tax our bodies and minds. Being in the thrall of our complicated first-person narratives is wearying. The simplicity of pure awareness sets things right again.

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