Buddhism and Meditation

Life With Full Attention – Week 6

Yesterday the MK Meditation Association met up and practiced Mindfulness of Breathing meditation. After a tea break we continued with our Life with Full Attention Course. Here are the notes from the meeting:

Life with full attention -Week 6 – Nature & Art (Appreciation as a Way of Life)

Appreciation as an absolutely central attitude to life. Our aim should be to simply appreciate life, to stand back and enjoy it. Sure, there are things we have to do, responsibilites and so on, but we should not take these too seriously. We need to cultivate a playfulness, a lightness of touch.

- through Appreciation we become less preoccupied with worldly concerns

- we can lead less cluttered lives, enjoying spaciousness and freedom from complexity

- appreciation is non-acquisitive – it is an end in itself – it’s own reward

- it sensitizes us to the ugly – to the unproductive games of egoism

- absorbed in appreciation we begin to forget ourselves, transcend ourselves

Appreciating Nature


- Developing a capacity to take pleasure in things as they are – cultivating an interest in what is in front of us – starting with the natural world.

- Developing a capacity to take pleasure in things as they are – cultivating an interest in what is in front of us – starting with the natural world.

- Interaction with other species – good for us – reduces stress “pet therapy”

- Gardens and trees aid healing and have positive physical & psychological benefits

- Can learn to appreciate nature as something valuable in and of itself.

Kant: “The love of nature for it’s own sake is always a sign of goodness”

Developing a connection to nature requires us to examine how we may be harming it

Appreciating the Arts


- Art can help us connect with nature – through paintings & poetry – an imaginative connection helping us to see patterns, connections, subtleties and nuance.

- Develop our “painters eye” to see things afresh

- Also drama and music – a satisfaction that unites pleasure and meaning

In the Seen Only the Seen


- The Appreciative mode is the antidote to the prevailing Western mode:- acquisitiveness
- Seeing things as they are with nothing of me “added on”
- Appreciative Wisdom (Vidya), free from grasping allows the world to shine. Simple experiences are “alive” in a way we can’t pin down.
- The life “out there” is intimately connected with the life “in here”

Practice Week

We are building on Wise and Unwise attention – the 4 Right Efforts from week 5. What we pay attention to strongly conditions how we feel and what we do. The Art of Happiness – learning how to arouse wise attention and avoid unwise attention.

An Environment Week – Take some time to connect & enjoy the natural world & do something practical to help the environment: The 3 R’s Reduce/Re-use/Recycle

Improve Your Cultural Diet – increase the nutrition in your pleasure. Try visiting an art gallery or museum. You could see a play, read some poetry or good literature. Unite pleasure  & meaning

The Mindful Walk – try to see things as they are, just notice without reaction – without adding “me” or trying to change the experience

The Mindful Moment – investigate and intensify your experience of your surroundings. Appreciate and engage the imagination. You could sketch your surroundings or write a short story or poem. You might try just listening to some music – wholeheartedly without distraction. Let go and eneter into a state of reverie.

Create a Shrine – a sacred space to meditate – a place of peace. Indoors or outdoors. Use your imagination, it does not have to be Buddhist or “religious”. You could collect objects from nature, use candles, oils or incense. You could paint or draw objects. Look to create a sense of connection with what is important to you.

Meditate – try to find some time to meditate – sitting, walking or lying down. It could be 5 minutes or much longer. You could try the meditations from the class: mindfulness of breathing, metta bhavana, just sitting. You could try some quiet reflection – “impermenance in nature”, or “interconnection through eating” reflecting on those involved in bringing food to your plate.

There is too much here to try in one week. Tonight, pick one or two things that appeal to you, that you might enjoy trying. Plan some time to do them during the week ahead.

Don’t try to do too much and then feel like you have failed.

Everything you manage to try is a bonus.

This is not work – experiment & enjoy! Do it your way.

Remember to contact your mindfulness buddy and to keep up your journal – maybe use it to draw a sketch or jot down a poem.