We are having out-of-the-body experiences all the time, more often than in-the-body experiences. The out-of-the-body experiences can be fascinating. We can travel pretty much anywhere in our minds, anytime. But with mindfulness, we discover what’s possible when we learn how to stay IN the body, fully present, focused, awake.
Meditation is the time when we bring our mind and our body to the same place at the same time. What we’re trying to do is train our minds and hearts to be with the actuality of what’s here—even when it’s difficult. We uncover the vividness and richness of that actuality, of Reality—capital R, right in the midst of hard times.
Freeing the heart from suffering doesn’t mean that there isn’t pain or suffering in our lives. During the recent rains, one community member who is experiencing excruciating pain due to a life-threatening illness wrote:
“During my morning meditation today, I continued the practice of reframing the “pain” as “strong sensation,” a feeling to be curious about, rather than label as negative…. After a while I noticed that the strong sensation in my shoulder and arm was powerful, tingling, pulsing and for a long time, it honestly felt like pleasure.
Now, I wish I could say that I now have the ability to transform my pain to pleasure at will. But I don’t get to choose what happens. Whether I am sick or if it rains is beyond my control. All I can do is continue to turn my mind to the reality of the present moment—as it is—good or bad, rain or shine, pain or pleasure…I’m not in charge. I can only watch the droplets fall, grateful that I am alive to feel them wash over me.”
No matter what is happening, each moment of being in this body contains all the ingredients we need to wake up. By staying with the ‘in-the-body experience,’ this meditation student has realized the truth of what my first teacher used to say: “Zen mind is enough mind.” Even in the midst of intense difficulty, she expresses her gratitude for “every being in the universe who is out there living life to the fullest, bravely facing the ups and downs, being present while you can.” Enough, indeed.