Living Deeply

9 Essential Keys to Living More Fully and Freely in the Present Moment


It's now New Years as of the day I'm writing this, and throughout much of the world, people are making resolutions to change or improve some aspect of their life.

Most of us make simple resolutions like "eat healthy", "get in shape", or "get my finances in order". The fact that these goals lack any detail or a specific plan for accomplishment aside, the biggest problem with making resolutions or setting goals in this way is that they don't seek to handle the real issue from the source.

What is the real issue? It always originates from the mind. What that actually means varies from person to person, but it's always some form of resistance to the present moment- to reality and our life as it is. This doesn't mean we can't or shouldn't seek to change our physical (or outward) circumstances, but this does mean that before doing so we need to get our "mental house" in order. Without having done this, we're moving in the dark, never really knowing if we're taking one step forward, sideways, or backward (or if we really even care to move at all).

It's mindfulness practice and the ability to look deeply into our everyday experiences which allow us to see with clarity, and that clarity brings greater freedom and a sense of meaning where there was once a lack-there-of. That feeling of "voidness", of something being missing, disappears and we're left feeling whole and fulfilled doing and experiencing even the simplest of things.

Truthfully, I've found this to be the single most difficult effort I've ever made in my life. But, I've also benefitted more from dedicating myself to living more mindfully and fully in this moment, the present moment, than anything else in my life by far as well.

And the great thing is, we all have it in us. No matter who you are you can make an effort to live more mindfully, more fully in the present moment. And while it can be a difficult effort, the reality is you don't need to live 24 hours a day in mindfulness. Even living your life 5% or 10% more mindful will make a tremendous difference in your life in so many different ways.

Last week on the Zen for Everyday Life podcast, I talked about how to make mindfulness a way of life through my 7 keys for living more mindfully. Those are the keys I've found through my own practice and experimentation to be most critical in making a more mindful life a reality.

But there's more to living fully and freely in the present moment than just being mindful. When you become mindful you often come face-to-face with resistance and are still posed with certain critical questions and issues which can be hard to surmount. These issues will keep you from realizing the fullness and freedom which living mindfully can bring you.

To help with that here are 9 essential keys I've found to living more fully and freely in the present moment.

9 Essential Keys to Living More Fully and Freely in Everyday Life

Below you'll find what I've discovered to be 9 essential keys to living both with greater freedom as well as with greater meaning and fulfillment in everyday life.

These points vary widely and many are lifelong efforts, but they all have a simple and to-the-point quality to them which makes them easy to understand and begin to apply in your everyday life.

I hope these 9 essential keys help serve you in your effort to live a more free and meaningful life.


1. Open yourself fully to this moment

"The pain that you create now is always some form of nonacceptance, some form of unconscious resistance to what is."

- Eckhart Tolle

Resistance is a principle I've talked about before on the blog. It's been described many ways before, but I prefer resistance because it gives you what I feel is an accurate visual of what the real effort, or thing happening, is in each moment.

We're resisting what is, to put it simply. There's really nothing more to it. But of course, that's hardly enough explanation to know how to actually apply this in your own life.

To better understand this and see clearly how you can apply it in your own life, I'll give some personal examples.

In episode number five of the Zen for Everyday Life podcastHow Mindfulness Helps Us Overcome Difficult Everyday Challenges, I talked about how before my first son was born I experienced paralyzing anxiety due to my money troubles.

Any time I'd think about my money troubles I'd go into a sort of shock and freeze up completely. This wasn't just stressful and a source of anxiety, but it was the most unproductive thing I could possibly do to actually get out of my situation in the first place.

It took some time, but after a while, I was able to step away from the issue and separate myself from it due to the clarity I had found through my meditation and mindfulness practice. At times, I still experienced challenges due to a lack of money, but it no longer affected me the way that it once did.

Ultimately, this was because my mindfulness practice didn't allow me to run from my issue. It forced me to face up to it and observe it more closely and at length. And after a while, that paralyzing and anxiety-causing quality to it just dropped away as I gained more and more clarity.

Another clear example from my own life is when I found out I was going to be a father...for the third time. I talked about it in Zen and the Art of Adapting to Life's Curveballs. That post stands as one of my personal favorites and a favorite of many of the Buddhaimonia community at the time it was published.

In the post, I talked about how I initially resisted the idea of being a father for the third time and found myself feeling resentment and anger towards the unborn child. Luckily, this is after I had been practicing for some time, and quickly shifted my mindset to one of appreciation, understanding, and love and welcomed the child with open arms.

Letting go of the resistance I had felt opened up a new possibility- that of this new child being a source of joy and meaning for me and my family (which my little girl absolutely became).

There are many ways this can manifest as the garden of our consciousness holds many seeds- seeds of anger, resentment, fear, jealousy, and more. But it all comes down to the same one thing- resistance to the present moment.

It will take time before you can spot this resistance yourself, but over time, you'll be able to see it more clearly. Furthermore, with dedication to your practice, you'll begin to let go of it and live with greater peace and freedom.


2.  Live harmoniously

“As a bee gathering nectar does not harm or disturb the color & fragrance of the flower; so do the wise move through the world.”

- Buddha

Mindfulness gives us unrivaled access to our own thoughts, words, and actions and the intentions which lie hidden beneath them. Because of this, with time, we can begin to see that what we think, say, and do has a real effect on not just ourselves but the word around us.

This can mean many things, but it all comes down to one central idea: to live harmoniously with the world around us. Whether that's with other people, animals, plants, or the Earth and life itself in a general sense, to live harmoniously with these various parts of life is to water seeds of peace, freedom, and meaning within ourselves.

This is something I've found has come about as a natural byproduct of my practice combined with opening myself up to the natural world, two things which go together like peanut butter and jelly (and I really like peanut butter and jelly).

But don't make the mistake of thinking that this is restricted to what we call nature and nothing else. Try not to draw imaginary lines, or at least, notice where you have drawn them.

Nature, people, animals, thoughts, words, actions- everything is connected. To live harmoniously is to live in a way that you don't disturb the natural order of things. Much is included within that, but if you remember that basic tenet it's easy to keep from being led astray.

To keep this natural order is to keep the peace, both within your mind and in the world outside. This point runs pretty deep, but for now, I think it's important to leave it at that.


3. Stop searching for meaning outside yourself

“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.”

- Alan Watts

There's a deep current that runs throughout this world, but most of us have become unconnected to it. That current is love, but unfortunately, most of us have floated off into a place of fear, lack, or as I often refer to it: the feeling that "something" is missing.

We search for meaning outside ourselves in many different ways:

  • We seek to feel "complete" through intimate relationships.
  • We seek to feel fulfilled through big accomplishments.
  • We seek to feel loved through sex.
  • And we seek to feel content through harmful, unhealthy, or generally neutral repetitive activities (this takes shape in many ways).

Whatever it is, it's all towards the same purpose of making ourselves feel "full", to fill that sense of voidness within us and, unknowingly, get back to the current of love. Unfortunately, most of us go about it the wrong way and end up hurting ourselves more than anything else.

To make this a reality, more is necessary than just mindfulness, although mindfulness can help us to cultivate positive qualities such as compassion and understanding, the foundations of love.

Stop searching for meaning outside of yourself. Stop thinking you need something outside of yourself, even "the one" (for the record, I believe an intimate relationship can be very nourishing and a beautiful addition to life. Something to look forward to for sure, but like so many other enjoyable things, in no way necessary for peace or happiness).

Along with your mindfulness practice, the resources below can help you to begin cultivating more understanding, compassion, and finally love in your life:

  1. Cultivating compassion and understanding: Healing Through Understanding: How a Simple Meditation Can Transform Your Mind and How You Relate to Others
  2. Culivating love: How to Practice Loving-Kindness Meditation
  3. Understanding the power of love: Love is the Way: The Universal Path to Peace, Happiness, and Enlightenment
  4. Seeing through the illusion of intimate love: 3 Ways Intimate Love Keeps Us from Peace and Happiness and How to Transcend Through Self-Love

When you begin to work on this, you'll find that this empty feeling you had was never really there. You were full along, you had just lost the current.


4. Shift from "me" to "us"

"Only keep the question, 'What is the best way of helping other people?'"

- Seung Sahn

This isn't an easy effort for anyone, but some cultures have an easier time with this than others. It just so happens, if you live in the West, this is particularly more difficult.

In the West, more so than in some parts of the East, the ego is a stamp of our individuality, without which we'd wither away and become like drones. But this is a misunderstanding more than anything else.

The shift from "me" to "us" coincides with the shift from fear (or lack) to love in the last point. It's an altogether opening up of our state of mind to a place where all things are precious and beautiful and equal.

It doesn't mean we lose ourselves or our sense of identity, it simply means we gain a clearer understanding. A clearer understanding of our interconnectedness and interbeing nature.

Our mindfulness practice helps us begin to make this shift, most particularly the practice of deep sitting meditation, as do certain exercises which the Buddha suggested in his many talks, among those the practice of loving-kindness meditation which I linked to in the last point.


5. See your interbeing nature

“We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.”

- Thich Nhat Hanh

Moving on from the last point, realizing the interbeing nature of all things is about the same idea of "awakening from our illusion of separateness" as Thich Nhat Hanh refers to it in the quote above.

You can practice this simply and easily within your everyday life (it's one of my personal favorite exercises). Specifically, through Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh's practice of looking deeply. Here's how to practice it:

  1. Pick an object. This could be a flower, tree, a piece of food, or even a person (although that's a bit of an advanced form of the practice). Whatever it is, pick one object and focus on that.
  2. Work backwards. Take a flower for instance. Start with where you got it- the store, flower shop, outside in your garden, at the park or wherever. Then imagine, or find out if you don’t know, how it got to the flower shop, how it was transported, how it was maintained for freshness, how it was cared for and picked, and how it grew from a seed in the ground into a flower. Lastly, think about the soil and all the things that make up the soil that would eventually provide the seed the nutrients to grow into the flower as it sits in front of you now.
  3. Realize interbeing. Lastly, think of how if you were to take away even one of those elements: the grower, the garden, the soil, the seed, or the facility that packaged and delivered it, the flower would cease to exist.

This is a simple and easy meditation which you can do on just about anything, you just may have to stop to do a little searching to find out exactly where that thing comes from. But that can be an exciting and insightful exercise in itself (and something easily done nowadays with the internet).

After practicing this a few times on a few different objects, do this on yourself and see the many different conditions which you do and have depended on to exist as you are today and see that even we don't escape this great truth of impermanence.


6. Don't waste this life - Realize the impermanent nature of all things

“Great is the matter of birth and death. All is impermanent, quickly passing. Wake up! Wake up, each one! Don’t waste this life.”

- Dogen Zenji

The above quote from Zen master Dogen clearly exemplifies the importance of this point. Because of the impermanent nature of all things, we, as well as everything around us has a finite amount of time available to us in this life.

It's because of this that we shouldn't waste a single moment of it. To be mindful, fully present for this moment is to be fully alive and making the most of each moment available to us. This is the power of mindfulness. The power to truly live fully in each moment.

With mindfulness and the practice of looking deeply (see the last point), we can see into the impermanent nature of things and cultivate a sense of gratitude and appreciation for our lives and the little moments.

Smelling a flower, touching a tree, being with a loved one. In each of these moments, we can see clearly the impermanent nature of all things- both the moment and the things- and fully appreciate it for all its beauty. Get out there and live mindfully and more deeply and cultivate that sense of appreciation for yourself.


7. Decide what's important to you, simplify your life, and give yourself to those things

"Since there is never a time when worldly activities come to an end, limit your activities."

- Atisa

You can only give your time and attention to so many things. As I mentioned in the last point, we have a finite amount of time in this life and in each individual moment, so you need to:

  1. Decide what's important to you
  2. Simplify your life (cut down on the nonessentials)
  3. And give yourself to those important things

It's only in doing this that you'll be able to live a full life, one where you felt that you gave it your all and attained the peace you were searching for.

Simplicity may only be a container- the practice of mindful living, looking and seeing deeply, and cultivating love being the contents- but without the container, we'd have no effective capacity to create the right environment for peace and freedom to arise in the first place.

This can be something as simple as cutting down on your physical possessions, which have the ability to crowd our life and distract us. But more importantly, it includes things such as limiting your commitments and responsibilities, both of which crowd our mental activity.

For more information on how to make this a reality, see ZfEL podcast episode #5: How to Cleanse the Mind and Create an Environment Conducive to Greater Peace and Freedom.


8. Be fully of this moment

"Treat every moment as your last. It is not preparation for something else.”

- Shunryu Suzuki

Shunryu Suzuki has two of my favorite quotes pertaining to this point, the second is this:

"You should not have any remains after you do something. But this does not mean to forget all about it. In order not to leave any traces, when you do something, you should do it with your whole body and mind; you should be concentrated on what you do. You should do it completely, like a good bonfire.

You should not be a smoky fire. You should burn yourself completely. If you do not burn yourself completely, a trace of yourself will be left in what you do."

To be fully of this moment means to give your full being to this moment. It means you leave nothing on the table, reserve no part of yourself, hold nothing back and regret nothing. You act as one unstoppable force in that moment.

The way most of us live our lives, we're usually doing something now in preparation for something later. In each moment, we're more concentrated on the next moment than we are the present moment. Because of this, in a very real way we're never fully present to our lives and almost always living in our heads half asleep.

To live mindfully, deeply, fully engaged in this moment is to let go of the future and be fully of this moment- the present moment.

It doesn't necessarily mean you cease planning for the future, as some planning is necessary. How would a monk or nun get anything done at a monastery (and there's a lot to get done) if he or she never planned anything? So some degree of planning is necessary, but the focus should be on living fully in the present moment.

The most important things to pay attention to are fear of the future and aversion to the present. Fear of the future makes us either focus constantly on planning for the future and avoiding the present or mindlessly distracting ourselves and doing neither. Aversion to the present makes us hate being present and rather constantly planning to improve things or daydreaming in the future.

This can take time as future moments are always trying to pull us along. But with practice, we can begin to more clearly see when we're acting mindfully and when we're just eating our future plans.


9.  Know that the sacred is ordinary, the ordinary is sacred

"If you live the sacred and despise the ordinary, you are still bobbing in the ocean of delusion.”

- Linji Yixuan

I left this point for last because I feel that it's one of the most important points on this list.

So many search for meaning and purpose through a type of spiritual practice which is so far removed from their everyday lives that they begin to feel as though their daily lives are empty and devoid of any real meaning and that it's only through their separate practice in which they can be "filled up".

Unfortunately, this is just another form of confusion. To live in this way is to be utterly confused about what life, reality, and spirituality (all of the above) is and is about.

This is unfortunate because a true understanding leads to seeing clearly that everything in this world is precious and beautiful. This misunderstanding keeps you from experiencing the beauty that exists all around you at all times.

And in many cases, it keeps you from realizing the interbeing nature of all things, which despite a supposedly deep spiritual practice keeps us acting hostile and defensive towards the world around us. The opposite of what's necessary for peace to occur.

Also unfortunate is that while I can clearly convey the importance of realizing this point, I can't tell you anything that will help you realize it immediately. That's because it must be experienced first-hand, through a daily practice of mindfulness and deep looking.

You need to dedicate yourself to living deeply and mindfully in each and every moment. And even if you fail at this 95% of the time, that 5% where you're successful will radically transform your everyday experiences and cultivate a greater sense of peace, freedom, and meaning in your life for as long as you continue to practice.

So my best advice? Get out there and live mindfully. Look deeply into your everyday experiences. Into the flowers outside your window, into the food that you eat, and into the people you meet.

Make this a priority in your life and give your best effort. It may take time, but it will be enough.

For more information on making mindfulness a way of life, check out ZfEL podcast episode #6: How to Make Mindfulness a Way of Life: 7 Keys to Living a More Mindful Life.

And for a complete guide to both making mindfulness a way of life as well as looking deeply, my first full-length book Zen for Everyday Life is available for purchase here.

This Moment: How to Live Fully and Freely in the Present Moment

This post covered many of the central points of my latest book, This Moment, and I couldn't be more excited to bring it to you

Living simply, mindfully, naturally, and with great love. Those are the 4 core principles of the book and they together cover what I believe to be the most important efforts in life.

Whether it's peace, happiness, freedom, or meaning, these 4 principles, and the many sub-topics within them, encompass a complete moment-to-moment guide to living a deeply nourishing, easeful, and joy-filled life even amidst the most difficult everyday challenges.

To get more information and purchase a copy, click below:

Book Preview #3: The Little Book of Mindfulness, Chapter 3: Awakening to Your True Nature

The Little Book of Mindfulness

The Little Book of Mindfulness Book Previews: 1. The Little Book of Mindfulness, Chapter 1 2. The Little Book of Mindfulness, Chapter 2: Finding Peace Within 3. The Little Book of Mindfulness, Chapter 3: Awakening to Your True Nature (Current)

Coming Soon

I'm excited to announce that I'm now half way done with writing The Little Book of Mindfulness. I'm going to keep my intro short this week because I'm trying to finish another new article for you by Saturday.

I'm super excited to complete my first book, but I'm taking my time and making sure it turns out to the quality standards I've held all of my previous work to. I make it a point to never finish a piece of writing until I'm 100% happy with it.

I hope you enjoy the next chapter of The Little Book of Mindfulness, titled Awakening to Your True Nature. In this chapter, I describe the deeper level of spiritual practice and how mindfulness plays an important role.

I haven't decided yet if this is my last preview of the book before I release it or not. In any case, look for the book (in all versions) to be released next month!

As always, let me know what you think!

Part 1, Chapter 3:

Awakening to Your True Nature

As we discussed in the last chapter, mindfulness can allow us to obtain a tranquil mind and thereby bring a wellspring of peace and joy into our lives. But mindfulness has another important role. It’s the energy which allows us to discover the truth. Specifically, the true nature of things including ourselves. So the second power of mindfulness is the ability to help one obtain perfect clarity and awaken to one’s true nature (vipassana). By true nature, I’m referring to our true “way” or our natural existence. By seeking to live in this way we can unearth wrong perceptions and discover our true selves.

To discover one’s true self is something so many people strive for. Some strive to discover this elusive state most of their lives. But so many of us have no idea what exactly this entails. Where do we start? The very question of “who am I?” is as confusing as it is open ended. For the most part, this question is difficult to answer because there are so many hidden forces at work in our lives: the negative emotions which keep us locked in a perpetual “mental prison”, the ego which strives to protect our self-worth at all costs, the ever-present pressure from society to conform to often unrealistic or misguided ideas, other false views which distort our perception, and worst of all: fear. Fear of everything. Fear of what people think of us, fear of losing those close to us, and fear of losing our position in life, among other things. These forces alter our perception of reality. We think that these things are “us”, so the question of “who am I?” becomes a seemingly impossible question to answer. But these things aren’t really us. By living with mindfulness we can see beyond these wrong perceptions to our true nature.

What is our true nature? It’s beyond all perception, beyond all mental formations, beyond the physical body we inhabit, and beyond the sense organs we use to experience the world around us. And it’s beyond consciousness. You’re not your thoughts, emotions, or sensations. You’re not a separate self, disconnected from everything and everyone around you. You’re limitless. You’re in the trees, the flowers, and the clouds. And these things are in you. To confine ourselves to a limited identity such as “I am this old, this nationality, this sex, good at this, bad at this, I work here, and I’ve accomplished this.” is to confine ourselves inside of a small box. Our true nature is boundless. We’re closely interconnected to all living and nonliving things. We and everything around us is impermanent, and yet, we exist beyond life and death itself in an endless continuation of energy. Our true existence is the very ground of being, the plane of existence beyond words in which all things exist as one.

The essence of discovering our true nature is to come in contact with the ultimate. What is that? It goes by many names- the ultimate reality, the ultimate dimension, the ground of being, Buddha mind, and even God. The ground of being is the ultimate level of reality. It can’t be completely described in words because it’s beyond the concept of language. It can only be experienced. It exists in some form in just about every religion and spiritual tradition on Earth. I don’t want to speak too much about it, but know that the ultimate purpose of all spiritual practice is to touch the ground of being. By living deeply in this reality, the historical reality, we can touch the ground of being. By touching the ground of being, we see beyond all the things that once kept us chained down. We rise above fear, no longer have any need for hatred, anger, or jealousy, and we break the illusion of limiting beliefs. To touch the historical reality deeply is a very meaningful and fulfilling practice. You don’t need anything else. In that moment, everything is perfect. And you realize what true happiness is. To discover our true nature is in fact to discover our true selves and our true potential.

Building a resting place

It’s important to become aware of the ideas in this chapter, but if you’re just starting out don’t bother with awakening or any of this ultimate reality stuff. Just focus on calming the mind. Work on stopping, calming, fully resting, and healing as we spoke about in the last chapter. Develop your mindfulness practice by sitting, walking, breathing, and doing as many basic tasks throughout your day with mindfulness. Do this for at least a few months. Let your practice progress naturally.

As we spoke about in the last chapter, with time you’ll develop a great feeling of calm, experience a strong sense of peace and joy in everyday life, obtain complete rest, and heal the mind. These are all very important. But it also takes time to develop mindfulness as an ability and as a habit, so don’t try to rush through this part. You won’t get anywhere if you do that and will therefore just end up wasting a lot of time and effort. The practice of calming the mind never ends, it will be something you practice for the rest of your life and it’s equally important to gaining clarity of mind. Don’t think you can bypass this and become truly at peace without it. There’s no separating the two states of samatha and vipassana, in reality, they’re two sides of the same coin.

Remember when I said that calming the mind was the foundation for obtaining a clear mind? Tranquility and clarity are natural extensions of one another. When we calm our mind, it’s like we’ve built a nest for our mind. This nest nurtures and heals the mind naturally. This is our resting place. But this resting place is also fertile ground for receiving insight. Take the time to build this resting place and you’ll have a strong foundation which will allow you to begin touching reality deeply.

There’s no separating the two states of samatha and vipassana, in reality they’re two sides of the same coin.

Shining the Light of Mindfulness

So how does mindfulness help us discover our true nature? Mindfulness is the very vehicle which helps us see reality in its true state. By learning to live with mindfulness we can develop great clarity in order to see the world as it is. By “as it is”, I’m referring to seeing into the true nature of all things. This is reality in its true form, free from wrong views. This extinguishing of all wrong views and concepts is called Nirvana. Nirvana can best be translated as freedom. That is, true freedom. Freedom from all views in fact, because all views are wrong views when speaking in terms of the ultimate reality, which can only be experienced directly and is beyond all forms and concepts. And the act of obtaining this great mental clarity is traditionally called “awakening” (or “enlightenment” in many English translations of ancient Buddhist text). Why is all this important? Because it’s through this process of awakening that we discover our true nature and experience the ground of being. And it’s only until we learn to touch the ground of being that we discover true inner peace.

Imagine an orange. Your whole life you’ve seen this orange and you think the way that you see it is the way that it is. But, as we spoke about earlier, our wrong views color the lens (our perception) with which we perceive reality through. This wrong view of reality, which can be caused by a combination of “mental formations” such as fear, anger, and ignorance among many other things, is the ultimate source of all our suffering. By suffering, I’m referring to a sort of mental ill-being. Think of it as the opposite of inner peace. With mindfulness, the true nature of the orange will gradually reveal itself. You’ll see the orange peel back its skin and reveal something completely different from what you had perceived before. This is the process of awakening to the true nature of things.

Just as with calming the mind, gaining clarity of mind is a process. Don’t expect some sudden enlightenment to happen one day while practicing mindfulness. Moments of clarity can happen. These are moments of insight. But awakening is the slow process of peeling yourself and everything else in the world back one piece at a time to unveil the truth. You’ve lived your whole life “collecting” these false views. Imagine if you could wear ten pairs of sunglasses at once. Ten lenses, one in front of the other, in a row. Each of these lenses is a different color- green, pink, red, black- and each represents a wrong perception or mental formation which block you from experiencing reality in its true state. Your job is to remove each lens, one by one, until all ten pairs of sunglasses are gone. Each lens is blocking you from experiencing the full magnificence of the light. But with each pair of glasses you remove the more clearly you can see the light. It will take time to free yourself from all the things coloring your perception. But this is the ultimate liberation. This is true freedom. To be free from all false views, to no longer be tortured by deep-seeded issues or controlled by the ego, and to realize our limitless potential. I give this example to show that clarity is a gradual process. But as you work to wipe away your false views you’ll develop a great sense of peace and liberation. It doesn’t just come at the end of removing the last pair of sunglasses. Every moment of mindfulness is an opportunity to touch the ground of our being. This is the magic of living deeply.

To live deeply is ultimately what a spiritual practice is about. This is because to live deeply is to touch the ground of being and be liberated from all afflictions. Living deeply means nothing is trivial. Every single action, no matter how minor, holds great significance. Living in such a way, you appreciate every little thing in your life. You appreciate the water you have to drink, the food on your plate, the clothes on your back, and for having healthy eyes with which to see. Living deeply, in a way that cultivates a deep appreciation for the world around you, is a very fulfilling practice. By letting our mindfulness guide us, that is, being fully present for every action and placing our entire being into everything we do, we can realize our true nature.

Mindfulness is itself our “true vision”. Remember the field of mindfulness example I gave earlier? Mindfulness is the quiet observer of everything. It judges nothing, so it sees with absolute clarity. It sees the outside world, the mind in mind (observing one's thoughts), and it sees the mind in things, that is, our perception of the things we experience in the outside world. So mindfulness is itself awakening. When you’re practicing mindfulness you are awakened. It will take time though to identify and realize your true nature. But know that there is nothing to be gained, nothing you need to accomplish. You’re perfect just as you are in this moment. So to live deeply with mindfulness is to strive to live true to our nature and touch the seed of awakening in us.

How do we live deeply with mindfulness? This will be a natural progression of your mindfulness practice. Once you’ve become fully rested your mind will be able to rest in mind. You’ll now be able to experience mindfulness of the mind in the mind and the mind in things. Previously, we discussed the fact that everything we see, everything we experience, passes through our perception before we experience it. Because of this, the mind itself is part of what we’re experiencing. This is mindfulness of the mind in mind. In simple terms, there’s no escaping the mind because the mind is us. So when we observe the behavior of the mind with mindfulness that’s mindfulness of the mind while in the mind. We think we’re looking at a book, but in reality, we’re looking at our perception of the book. This is because, in reality, there is no separating subject and object. You can never separate mind from that which the mind is perceiving. What you think of the book- whether you like the book or not, think the cover looks funny or cool, or if the book conjures some sort of old memories good or bad- arises from the mind and becomes your perception of the book. So to be mindful of the book is also to be mindful of the mind in the book. Furthermore, this means that what we perceive isn’t necessarily the real world at all. The book that we see is first and foremost an object of our consciousness. When you and I look at the book, we see two different books. I might have a bad memory of the book which distorts my perception of it. On the other hand, you might have a good memory of the book with positively distorts your perception of it. Neither is correct, they’re both distorted perceptions of the book. It’s when we can see the true book that we experience our own true nature.

Mindfulness is our master tool in the study of the self.  By developing the power of mindfulness to the point where we can experience the mind in mind and the mind in things we begin to see that everything is mind. If the book we see (not the real book) is really an object of our consciousness, and the process of gaining clarity of mind is really about extinguishing all false views such as these, then mindfulness’ role is the tool which allows us to see deeply into ourselves and identify these false views. The light of mindfulness, the great observer, is also a great healer. Remember the animal that simply sits and rests in peace and quiet in order to heal its wounds? Mindfulness is the healing energy which allows us to gradually erode all false views and concepts in order to attain nirvana and touch the ground of our being. To realize our true nature is the only way to experience true inner peace. It will be difficult at first, but if you let mindfulness be your guide it will lead you to an existence filled with peace and joy.

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