The process of discernment is common to contemplative and mindful meditation practices. To discern is to recognize and label the ending of one thing with the beginning of another. All wisdom and knowledge is dependent on some form of discernment. Without this mental faculty, life could only be known as One single thing, and although this perception of reality might lead one to great insight, it isn’t very productive when we are called upon to act intently, which is practically every conscious moment of our waking life.
In order to act, we must distinguish between objects and learn to value some over others. Without this, action could only be arbitrary and meaningless.
While meditating we discern between different stimuli – a sound of a car in the distance, the smell of food cooking, or the bubbling sensation of a pain in our lower back. Through these observations we become more and more familiar with the reality of impermanence: the ever-changing state of conditions in our world. Even while still and sitting we are the focal point of a wide variety of different experiences that may arise. One moment we can be attending to an itch on our toe, the next we are dreaming about where and what we will eat for dinner. Mindfulness meditation teaches us to be better aware of when these changes in consciousness occur.
MEDITATING ON NEW BEGINNINGS
Even in the comfort of our own solitary meditation life remains uncertain. We never really know where the next moment might bring us. The unknown can be frightening on one hand, but tremendously powerful in other respects.
The future, especially for our self in our own life, is unpredictable. At the same time it is in our hands. In every precious moment we experience the spirit of free will; the ability to make decisions and perform action with intent and meaning. It is a type of energy that is inside all of us. It is the ability to attend to our environments and direct action.
To experience life without building upon this spirit would surely become a mundane existence. It lives inside all of us. It is the desire for a meaningful life, much like the Meaningful Life that is discussed in Positive psychologist, (and former president of the American Psychological Association, Martin Seligman in his 2002 book “Authentic Happiness.”
To me, the meaningful life is a life that is constantly embracing new beginnings. It is to experience each moment as distinctly special.
With this kind of perspective life only becomes richer, more lively, and more productive. It is a conscious decision to live like this. It can only be exercised through our own free will and our ability act with intention and purpose. It is a way of seeing and living that can only be cultivated through practice of mindfulness (whether in meditation or while in other activities).
This moment now is a new beginning, and it is a powerful now. In his world renowned 1997 best seller “The Power of Now,” spiritual teacher and self-help author Eckhart Tolle says “The quality of your consciousness at this moment is what shapes the future which, of course, can only be experienced as the Now”
Being aware with what is here now is the only direct means of changing the future. The start of the new you is now and this will continue to be true as each new moment arises. The dreams of the past are no more real than the dreams of the future. Your will is not there. It is here – making more decisions and performing more actions. Now is the only moment to choose direction.
The new beginnings are all around us. They are happening each moment. It is evident in all our doing. And it is always there to be perceived through daily mindfulness – not just in meditation but in all actions
How does treating each moment as a new beginning shape the way we act? Because we are present. We are making decisions more mindfully and skillfully because we are better aware of our actions and their consequences (or karma).
New beginnings – now. It is here. The start of the end. The beginning of a new self and a new world. Every moment – you are being awakened and reborn into a new reality, one that is always a bit different than the last. Over time these incremental changes can build new and unfathomable worlds. Ones we could have never predict. Where will you be tomorrow? What will happen to you? In a month? In a year? In a decade? Now is the beginning of all these things.
What will the world bring to you? More importantly, what will you bring to it?
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