June 15, 2009

Linger in the Aftertaste

When you ring a bell or pluck a guitar string, the sound gradually fades out, continuing to vibrate at less and less perceptible levels.

If you were at the meditation session where I brought the large singing bowl and struck it, you may remember that the reverberation lasted for quite a while before entirely dying out.

Similarly after you have finish eating a meal the aftertase lingers on your palate for awhile, unless you brush your teeth or chew some gum immediately after.

Or if someone bakes a pie, the aroma lingers in the kitchen air for some time afterward.

The smell of the shampoo clings to your hair. The fragrance of the soap remains on your skin.

So too with intentions.

Intentions set up a reverberation, a vibration, a subtle taste or fragrance, in our mind-body awareness.

Generally speaking, the more quiet your mind is, the deeper the intention reverberates.

When we sit quietly after silent meditation we intentionally radiate loving kindness to those around. As we send good wishes to all those within the field of our imagination, it sets up a vibration within us. You may remember that I invite you to slow down for a moment and rest in that flavor, color, vibration of loving-kindness within the field of awareness.

That mood or flavor slowly dissipates, like the sound of the ringing bell. But even after it is no longer as vivid and clear, it continues to subtly perfume our mind, speech, and actions, imperceptibly imparting its scent of loving-kindness to those we encounter.

Even when we become upset, the seasoning of loving kindness may cause our upset to be less harsh, or to pass more quickly.

It follows from this that if we can briefly touch in on the flavor of awareness and loving kindness a few times a day, it is like someone freshening their perfume, or taking in nourishment to keep their energy level up.

It takes only a moment to lightly touch in on awareness and loving kindness. This can be a moment of kindness toward ourselves, toward specific others, or toward the world in general.

Take a deep breath. Relax a little as you let the air out. Soften your gaze, or gaze inward, and let your attention sink into your heart, or your “hara” (the area two fingers below the navel) for another breath. Just touch and go. Think, “May everyone in this bulding be happy!” Or “May everyone on this street find peace.” (And remember that you are included in this!) Just that. Just for a moment.

Training like this, over and over, it becomes a mental imprint and suffuses the mind with positivity.

After awhile, try broadening your wish — “May all beings find peace!” Such a vast number of beings (human and animal) may seem a little abstract, so you might want to add a concrete group to make it more real, and less abstract: “May all beings, including everyone in this restaurant, be happy.”

We want to make this more than a rote formula. We want to infuse a moment of mindful presence into the intention.

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