Utne Blogs > Mind and Body

Mind the Gaps

 by Lisa Gulya


Tags: Spirituality, mindful living, meditation, Buddhism, death, pause practice, Shambhala Sun,

Not every moment of mindfulness can happen on a sunset beach.Buddhism prompts its adherents to face important but uncomfortable questions about dying. “Since death is certain, but the time of death is uncertain, what is the most important thing?” is one of Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron’s favorite inquiries. In the September issue of Shambhala Sun (article not available online), Chodron suggests that instead of focusing on death, it's more important to create “gaps” in our lives, pauses from constant worries and plans. We can’t always physically escape to a beach at sunset or a retreat center to get away from our worries, so calming our minds is essential. Taking three conscious breaths when you find yourself distracted is the foundation of Chodron’s pause practice, while “listening intently” and “put[ting] your full attention on the immediacy of your experience,” are other ways to break away, even if it means you’re listening to the sound of the copier in the next room and feeling an office chair against your back. “Find ways to create the gap frequently, often, continuously,” writes Chodron. “In that way, you allow yourself the space to connect with the sky and the ocean and the birds and the land the blessing of the sacred world.” 

Image by Hans-Peter, licensed under Creative Commons.

joe s_1
8/2/2008 11:35:47 PM

It is late, and I needed a break from worries that couldn't even be kept in check by my usual recipe of vodka, club soda and john denver. I typed in Utne in google because I have a subscription to the magazine, and looking for some spiritual / meditative guidance, I found this blog entry. Thank you for posting it, I think it is very wise, and notes something that all the great avoidance techniques that we've learned over the years can't quite get us back to -- this moment, this breath... the booze especially can't get me there, I know that for sure... John Denver knew it as he was writing and singing his music, but for me at least he takes me back to moments that (in my head, at least)are simpler and more beautiful than the angst-ridden moment I am in. So thank you -- would that all us can have such little reminders throughout our days and nights of the "gaps" that can save us from ourselves...