Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Mountain Just Sits

In our life we can learn a lot from a mountain. Mountains are known for their presence and stillness. Picture in your mind the most beautiful mountain you can imagine. One that speaks personally to you. Imagining its shape, size, character and qualities. Imagine you are the mountain. Your head is it's lofty peak; your shoulders and arms are the side of the mountain; your buttocks and legs the solid base rooted to floor or on your chair. Experience in your body the sense of uplift, the elevated quality of the mountain deep in your own spine. Imagine you are a breathing mountain, unwavering in your stillness, completely what you are -- beyond words and thought, a centered, rooted, unmoving presence. 

Throughout the day, the mountain just sits. The light, shadows and colors are changing virtually moment to moment in the mountains adamantine stillness. As the light changes, day by day and night by night, the mountain just sits, simply being itself. It remains still as the seasons flow, as the weather changes, moment by moment, day by day. The mountain remains in calmness abiding all change. Even when enshrouded by clouds or fog, or pelted by freezing rain. Being unable to be seen by others at times but to the mountain it's all the same. Seen or unseen, in the sun or clouds, broiling or frigid, the mountain just sits, being itself. At times visited by violent storms, snow and rain and winds of unthinkable magnitude, through it all the mountain sits. Spring comes, the birds sing in the trees once again, the leaves return to the trees which lost them, flowers bloom in the high meadows and on the slopes, streams overflow with waters of melting snow. Through it all, the mountain continues to sit, unmoved by the weather, by what happens on the surface, by the world of appearances. 

As we sit holding this image in our mind, we can embody the same unwavering stillness and rootedness in the face of everything that changes in our own lives over seconds, hours and years. In our lives we experience constantly the changing nature of the mind and body  and of the outer world. We experience periods of light and dark, vivid color and drab dullness. We experience storms of varying intensity and violence, in the outer world and in our own lives and minds. Buffeted by high winds, by cold and rain, we endure periods of darkness and pain as well as savor ing moments of joy and uplift. Even our appearance changes constantly, just like the mountains. By becoming the mountain in our own eye and mind, we can link up with its strength and stability, and adopt them for our own. We can use its energies to support our efforts to encounter each moment with mindfulness, equanimity, and clarity. The weather of our own lives is not to be ignored or denied. It is to be encountered, honored, felt, known for what it is, and held in high awareness. In holding it this way, we come to know a deeper silence and stillness and wisdom than we may have thought possible, right within the storms. Mountains have this to teach us, and more, if we can come to listen. We as human beings are far more interesting and complex than mountains. We are breathing, moving, dancing mountains. 

The birds have vanished into the sky,
And now the last cloud drains away.

We sit together, the mountain and me, 
until only the mountain remains.

I heard this meditation a while back but for some reason it resonates more with me now then ever before. In my mind I can't stop thinking "the mountain just sits". Thinking of the mountain and its unwavering through it all. No matter what happens, the mountain just sits. It just remains in the moment. Whatever the moment brings, the mountain just sits.

This meditation was written by Jon Kabat-Zinn in his book, Wherever You Go There You Are.

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