Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tao Te Ching - Mindfulness Exercises

When you look at this bird, what do you think? If you paused to explore the colors, poise, uniqueness and wonder of this creature than you have a knack for being mindful and connecting with everything around you. On the other hand, if you do what I've done countless times in my life, and said, "Oh, there's a robin." Then you have some work to do. Or shall I say "undo."

As a young child, you may have looked upon robins with wonder and curiosity. Perhaps you even tried to flap your arms like wings to see if you could fly. I remember watching intently after a spring rain, as robins hopped about the lawn munching on worms and other grub. I was fascinated.

Then our parents or teachers inform us that the name of this unique creature is "robin." With this label some of the wonderment disappears. Did you ever walk in the woods in different part of the world and notice how interesting the unknown foliage and critters are? When we name things, there's the underlying notion that we have it "all figured out" and some of the interest may diminish. Of course, the use of words are vital to our current form of communication, but the question is "how can we stay connected and still use words?"

When we label a group of people we separate ourselves from one another, unless they are part of "our group." When a doctor labels the patient with a condition or disease, frequently the symptoms worsen and panic sets in. Labels have the very strong ability to limit us in how we perceive things, people, and ourselves.

Did you ever notice how judgements about a person are really labels that we've put on someone? Are we limiting those relationships with this naming? When we determine a child is smart or not, are we setting boundaries for their own performance?

Do we need language? Yes. Do we need to attach ourselves to it? No. A matter-of-fact, I would propose being very careful not to. As Eckhart Tolle suggests, go into nature and see it, smell it, hear it, feel it, taste it, but do not name it. When you do this, a mystery unfolds and connection begins to return.

Consider the opening lines in the Tao Te Ching (The Way of Life--tao translates to the way or path):

"The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal Name.
The unnamable is the eternally real."


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!


klm said...

Lovely reminder! I'm out working in my garden today and as I don't know the names for much, I notice that I stop to really SEE the plant, and in doing so drop into the moment.

To stop at a name is I guess to stop at the mind.

Darcy said...

Beautiful. It gives you such a fresh look - or listen - to things that you might have seen or heard over and over again. For instance, we're doing a piece this week that's known as a "warhorse", or a "top 40 classical" piece that's done all the time. I could be cynical and say "ugh, not this old tired thing again..." even though I've played it dozens of times. I try to listen and see what I can notice about the piece this time, at this point in my life, with this instant's cumulation of my life energy (which will be completely different the next time I hear it). I love your blog!! :)

Total Health Yoga - Kris said...

Well put, KLM. And, Darcy, that's wonderful that Lao Tzu's words have brought more presence into your life.