As we engage in activity, we can ground our awareness in the body and use it as a helpful anchor for our practice. We do this by having a tactile sense of contact with the ground, contact with physical movement, and contact with the material world around us. This brings awareness into the body, but it’s also important how this awareness is held. The Buddha’s way of teaching and training is through questioning and reflection. We’re not trying to apply a catechism of, “The body is like this,” repeating it over and over again. The awareness is an exploration, an investigation. We are asking ourselves, What is the experience I’m having? Does it feel comfortable or not? Does it feel wholesome or not? Is this what mindfulness is, or not? This kind of questioning is not an intellectual analysis, rather, we are trying to use contact as a mirror for reflecting and seeing more clearly.
We should, of course, reflect on the mind as well. What’s my mental state right now? What’s the intention? What’s the volition within the mind? Is this skillful or not skillful? How do I create and maintain a quality of skillfulness? This is the kind of investigation we can carry with us throughout the day. Whether we are sitting in the Dhamma Hall, back at our kuṭis, or doing our chores, reflecting in this way internalizes our experience. It gives us an anchor for recognizing whether we’re on track or not, whether we’re according with Dhamma or have lost the plot.
We need to develop these essential skills so that they permeate every aspect of our practice, no matter where we are or what we are doing. As Ajahn Chah and so many other teachers have often said, “The Dhamma of the Buddha is everywhere.” We don’t have to go to the Pāli Canon to find it. We don’t have to be sitting in a monastery to find it. It’s the ability we have to recognize and see the truth, to see the way things truly are. It’s everywhere. We can connect with it, we can contact it, and we can experience it.
This reflection by Ajahn Pasanno is fromBeginning Our Day, Volume Two