The here and now that offers rest and peace is not a thought, sensation or state of mind. These things, which we customarily mistake to be the real business, continually defy and tantalize us with their scintillating changeability. Right here and now is the awareness that takes embodiment as location, empathy as felt relationship and silent attention for clarity. Embodied awareness, one that sees clearly and doesn’t hold on or reject – this is a lasting refuge.
Everything you experience passes through this gate. You can’t have it, name it, get it or get rid of it; you can only rest in it. And this is why it gives us ease.
We can use breathing, the sound of listening or the wide embracing heart as reference points that offer balance in the stream of daily life. For example, when you feel stress and imbalance arising, relax your shoulders and breathe out slowly. If, however, you feel really locked, attend to where in your body you feel that, accept its presence and widen the lens of attention. Sense the area around the tension and widen your attention over your entire body. At a certain point, as the breathing becomes apparent, it will ease and release the stress.
Alternatively, when your thinking is getting too fast or tumultuous, listen to it in a way that is both accepting and curious. When you hear the sound of listening, the shift occurs that gives you perspective on your thoughts.
These shortcuts can be used in the field of everyday activity. However, they can’t replace the more thorough refreshment and alignment of concerted, quiet practice. As you get more familiar with sustained quietude, honour it and attend to it regularly and for as much time as you can give it.
This reflection by Ajahn Sucitto is from the booklet, Clarity and Calm for Busy People, Rest in the Here and Now, #4.