Pas­sion on the swirl

Hap­pi­ness, it’s true, does come from within. I would never deny that, but look­ing for­ward to the small things along the way is the pas­sion on the swirl! Words and pho­tog­ra­phy by Mark Abriel

Living Now - - Food -

Ev­ery­one is look­ing for a key to hap­pi­ness. Well, for me, it’s not just one key, it’s many – and one of them is to al­ways have some­thing to look for­ward to, even if it’s just a lit­tle thing, like wait­ing on some­thing to ar­rive in the mail, or for the surf to get good.

Ev­ery Wed­nes­day morn­ing, where I live on the NSW north coast, there’s a mar­ket. The benches are filled with pro­duce fresh­picked that morn­ing, mostly or­ganic: lady-fin­ger ba­nanas, man­goes, pump­kins, sor­rel.

Pro­duce mar­kets prob­a­bly haven’t changed much in hun­dreds of years. In our age of mo­bile phones, cars and in­ter­net, wan­der­ing through the pro­duce stalls with only a hes­sian sack is walk­ing back through time, to the plea­sures of a sim­pler age.

Af­ter I’ve loaded up with bunches of basil, av­o­ca­dos, grapes and what­ever else I can carry back to the car, I walk over to a lit­tle bak­ery stall. I peer in to the wooden glass-cov­ered shelves, to see if there are any of my favourites left: pas­sion­fruit swirls and light pas­tries cov­ered in slices of bright green kiwi fruit and blue­ber­ries. It’s all or­ganic, made with fresh but­ter, and sea salt, a real tes­ta­ment that food that looks and tastes amaz­ing can also be good for one. I usu­ally ar­rive at the end of the mar­ket, and the lady that bakes the desserts al­ways gives me a spe­cial deal on what­ever is re­main­ing: it’s just a lit­tle thing on life’s jour­ney, but it’s one I al­ways look for­ward to!

Hap­pi­ness, it’s true, does come from within. I would never deny that, but look­ing for­ward to the small things along the way is the pas­sion on the swirl! ■

Dr. Mark Abriel grad­u­ated from Life Chi­ro­prac­tic Col­lege, in Ma­ri­etta, Ge­or­gia, USA. He is the di­rec­tor of By­ron Bay Holis­tic Chi­ro­prac­tic.

Mind­ful­ness has be­come the ‘ flavour of the decade’ amongst med­i­ta­tion prac­tices, but has its me­te­oric rise in pop­u­lar­ity re­sulted in its ‘ dumb­ing down’?

Has some of its ex­quis­ite sub­tlety and sim­plic­ity been re­duced to a mere re­lax­ation tech­nique or a per­sonal devel­op­ment tool? It would be a great pity, be­cause mind­ful­ness med­i­ta­tion, ap­pro­pri­ated from an­cient Bud­dhist roots, has so much more po­ten­tial for deep heal­ing and spir­i­tual awak­en­ing. Its sim­plic­ity and ‘or­di­nar­i­ness’ be­lie its pro­fun­dity. Yes, mind­ful­ness is a very skil­ful stress man­age­ment tool, but there’s much, much more on of­fer!

We of­ten hear mind­ful­ness med­i­ta­tion ‘mar­keted’ as a way of:

be­ing more in the present mo­ment, com­ing to your senses, get­ting out of your head and be­com­ing more fully en­gaged in ev­ery­day ac­tiv­i­ties.

Orig­i­nally, mind­ful­ness med­i­ta­tion was de­signed to ad­dress a case of mis­taken iden­tity. The mis­take is iden­ti­fy­ing with a mind-con­structed ‘me’, i.e., an im­age of self, and then tak­ing that im­age too se­ri­ously. The im­age of self is made up of his­to­ries, dra­mas, un­healed wounds and de­fences. The im­age is not the real me. It is a men­tal con­struct made up of mem­ory and imag­i­na­tion, and main­tained by ex­ces­sive think­ing.

How­ever, by sim­ply choos­ing to re­peat­edly shift our at­ten­tion to an ex­pe­ri­en­tial re­al­ity, in the present mo­ment (i.e., be­ing mind­ful), we can soften our at­tach­ment to our im­age. The past loses some of its power over us. The present be­comes more at­trac­tive, more com­pelling and the con­fi­dence grows to face it.

From my ex­pe­ri­ence, if you con­tinue to med­i­tate be­yond the ob­vi­ous ben­e­fits, the prac­tice be­comes sub­tler and more in­fused with in­sight, ten­der­ness and mys­tery. Your prac­tice be­comes a spir­i­tual jour­ney to higher lev­els of aware­ness. Beau­ti­ful qual­i­ties of be­ing de­velop nat­u­rally: com­pas­sion, courage, for­give­ness and kind­ness.

You be­gin to con­tact your in­ner wis­dom, in­tegrity and dis­crim­i­na­tion. Your mind be­comes more spa­cious and less re­ac­tive as equa­nim­ity de­vel­ops.

You see great beauty in small things and, sweet­est of all, you ex­pe­ri­ence ‘hap­pi­ness for no good rea­son’. Spon­ta­neous joy brings a smile to your face, a song to your heart and a spring to your step.

Yet, the great­est bless­ing that grows from mind­ful­ness prac­tice is FREE­DOM. The weight of the past lifts. Mind­ful­ness med­i­ta­tion is a jour­ney of lib­er­a­tion… and all from the skil­ful act of choos­ing to be present! n

Paul Bed­son, Se­nior Ther­a­pist and Re­treat Fa­cil­i­ta­tor at the Yarra Val­ley Liv­ing Cen­tre, Vic­to­ria.

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