We’ve been living with COVID -19 since early March. People have been asking a lot of questions about how to practice with it. I always respond by asking more questions:
- How have you been practicing with it so far?
- What’s been helpful for you?
- What’s been unhelpful?
- How do you practice with anything else?
- And: What do you mean by practice?
This last question is most important. Is practicing with COVID 19 different than practicing with anything else? What is our goal/hope/wish from practice?
I rest in the simple, basic instructions on mindfulness that come from the Satipatthana Sutta. In the Satipatthana, Buddha gives instructions for how to be aware (sati), and offers a comprehensive catalog of human experiences to practice with. The sutta guides us to be aware of body, heart and mind; to be mind-full of thoughts, feelings, our physical aliveness, and also to be aware of what is aware. We are instructed to be aware not only of what we know, but also what it is that knows all of it.
The repeated refrain after each mindfulness teaching in the sutta is also helpful. It contains a key transmission from the Buddha highlighting the essence of what is possible with practice. It states: …one abides independent, not clinging to anything in the world.
For me, and I believe for all of us, this instruction underlies our questions about practice. How can we discover our freedom in each moment? By being unattached, not bound, not clinging to anything in the world! As preparation for the class, please reflect on your own clinging and non-clinging this week:
- What are you attached to?
- When do start clinging? And what is the impact?
- What happens if you’re aware of clinging in the moment?
- How does non-clinging happen? And what is the impact?