Thursday, February 02, 2006

Conscious living

I just stumbled upon a website called Conscious Living with Nancy Napier. I'm a real admirer of Nancy Napier. One of her books is called Getting Through the Day and we used that as a springboard for ongoing class here at the Center some years ago. Here's something she said as an introduction to walking meditation:
There is tremendous benefit in learning to be comfortable with your own internal world, so an important question is how to begin to develop that comfort. This takes me to one of the things I care most about sharing with people: the power of awareness. When we are able to be more conscious of our ongoing thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, and urges, we learn that awareness of what's going on inside us generates the possibility of choice. With an increased capacity to choose how we want to be and respond in each moment, we have an opportunity to move through the world with a greater sense of mastery, empowerment and safety.

Most importantly, when we are able to be in touch with what's going on inside us, we can discover that there is nothing there that can really hurt us. What we discover are thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations that arise in the present moment, along with all of our various urges and impulses. In and of themselves, these "contents of consciousness" can't do anything to us. We may have thoughts that frighten us, feelings that seem to be overwhelming, or urges that may be self-destructive, and it's important to learn strategies to deal with these. But, awareness in and of itself is only awareness. Nothing more, nothing less.

It's been my experience that many people avoid inner work because they're afraid they will be overwhelmed. But if we learn to meditate, we learn that we can treat any experience or feeling as a thought --- and we know what to do with thoughts! We can notice them, accept them without judgment, let them go and then bring the mind back to the meditative support or, if we're not in formal meditation, whatever we're doing at the moment. The thought does not have to have power. This is Nancy Napier's point when she says that awareness is simply awareness.

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