The everyday mindfulness practice of direct experience

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When I first started practicing Zen meditation years ago, I thought it was to make me more calm. Then it was to make me less reactive. Then to make me less attached to things.

These things all happen if you meditate regularly, as many of you know. But one of the most helpful things I’ve done is to drop the goal of meditation and mindfulness. And just be with my experience.

I think of this as the mindfulness practice of direct experience, and it’s something you can do every day, as many times as you can remember. It’s quite ordinary, and also quite a bit magical.

The practice of meditating on the breath is how this starts, of course: you stay with the direct experience of feeling your breath, in and out, the sensations of breathing your breath. Your mind wanders, you notice, you come back. If you like, you can label it “thinking” before you come back to the breath. But you keep coming back, even if you’re sidetracked for 5 minutes.

That is practice for direct experience of everything.

The thing is … our lovely minds get in the way.

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