Meditation Column: Pay attention to the things going on around you

Heads up: It’s important to stay aware of your surroundings while keeping a clear head. SOURCE: METRO IMAGES

The act of observing: to look upon another human, an object, a situation, etc. Some people observe to gain knowledge of something or someone. Some also observe to draw conclusions and understanding in order to make decisions about situations. Some of us are thought of as having “great powers of observation,” in-tune, aware, present, etc. Many an observation may be wrought with confusion or misinterpretation of a situation, depending on the conscious presence of the observer. For example, when one observes from prejudice, ignorance, judgment, etc., the resulting conclusion may often be in conflict with peace, love and joy. Some students of meditation spend time observing, their practices include awareness of any mental responses to their observation.

The student sat quietly on the ground, close enough to observe, yet distant enough to separate from the goings-on around them. There were many people in their view, some in intimate conversation and others preoccupied with the task before them. The student was aware of a faint unidentifiable smell of smoke in the air and the sensation of a quiet breeze blowing across their skin. Silent, still they tuned into sounds of chattering birds feeding on some seed-laden grasses. Conscious, still aware of the emotional vibe of those around them; calm, yet excited, joyful and loving. Then bringing their attention to their own serenity in the moment, their state of observation, they sighed and felt peace beyond words, beyond understanding. Through unanswerable, unquestionable, non-judgmental, observation, presence was felt.

A meditation, try it out here and there, now and then, when it comes to your mind, or not.  Focus your attention on your breath, simply breathe in and out; count the breaths if it helps. While you’re breathing, bring part of your attention to the things going on around you. You may say to yourself, “I am observing the sensations in my body,” “I am observing the sounds in the room.” Similar to saying “aware” yet slightly different. Aware is when things come to mind, observing is purposefully making yourself aware of something. As with an awareness meditation, be conscious if and when your mind interferes, then observe that happening to you. Observe from a place of no thought. If you cannot, practice until you can.

It’s a new day. ••