February 26, 2020

Seeing with New Eyes

I mentioned in my last blog entry how I live overlooking the Hana Highway in Maui. It is one of the major attractions for visitors to the island, to drive the two hour journey out to the town of Hana that sits at the far end of this road. Actually the two hour pin is from the town of Paia. Depending on where you are staying on island, the journey could be closer to three hours one way - and, yes” you can stay in Hana.

Sometimes when I am driving home, following a car containing a family or persons visiting Maui, I wonder how they are seeing the road and its surrounding scenery? For them, each bend in the road will be revealing a vista that they have not seen before. Views that for me I see pretty much every day, will be a first occurrence for them. Are they seeing more than me? Am I missing anything in my easy to drop into complacency of seeing these scenes so regularly?

Bristol

I remember years ago walking through the city of Bristol in England where I grew up and looking up at the tops of the buildings that I was passing by. Aside from the more modern buildings that have gone up in my lifetime, I cannot pin point when buildings around Bristol were built? However, suffice to say that many of the larger buildings in the city centre are old and have details carved into their walls that can easily be missed if you are just walking along, head down, focused on where your next meeting is or something that is bothering you.

So what made me look up on that day I am not sure, but look up I did and saw details in those buildings that I had not noticed before. Buildings that I knew well, that I passed regularly, but took their presence so much for granted that I found myself actually not really knowing them.

What do we see?

This experience got me thinking.
    What are we truly aware of in the world around us?”
    What do we see and what do we miss?”

Awareness

Meditation practice opens our senses to the world around us. As I build on my practice, I start to become aware of aspects of myself - how I think, how I act - that before I was not aware of. This is not always easy. I might be exposed to a behavioural pattern that I have chosen not to look at, or was simply completely unaware of. With this comes the opportunity to grow in myself as I start to make friends with and integrate this new awareness.

In the same way that my awareness of myself grows, so does my awareness of the world around me. As I start to notice aspects of myself, the good and not so good, so do I also become aware of those around me - how they are acting and how I am reacting to them! As an American Buddhist monk once said when asked what he had gained from his meditation practice, he replied,

I know that I get angry.”

Sadly that is not something that we are all aware of all of the time.

The Post-meditation Practice

The effect on me is that as my awareness grows, so does the world around me, or should I say my awareness of the world around me.

All of this takes time and effort. Time in that one should not go looking for the change, but notice it slowly making its presence felt in your life as your practice of meditation grows. Effort not only in the effort that I make in my meditation practice, but also in the effort that I make in my post-meditation practice, my daily life.

My time away from the meditation cushion feeds my formal practice to the degree that I make an effort to be aware, to notice things. So as I walk the streets of Bristol I look around, see what is there. Or I strive to maintain an awareness of my emotions as I move through the day, keeping them in check if they are going to cause me to act in a way that does not serve me.

Back to the Hana Highway

Or as I drive home along the Hana Highway, while keeping an eye on the road, I notice the world around me and do not become complacent in my familiarity.

Where are you being complacent in your awareness of the world around you?


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Meditation


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