the mirrors of mindfulness & introspective awareness (45:53)
Updated: Dec 13, 2021
Here I use mirrors as metaphors for the saving graces of mindfulness and introspective awareness.
Introspective awareness provides trustworthy information about our current state and our past experiences.
Mindfulness provides trustworthy information about the truths we hold dear in our hearts.
When we're operating with a fully open and flowing heart, we don't need these mirros so much - our minds are clearly perceiving, and our heart's truths are plain to see. We can simply surrender into the flow and sustain our poise in the radiance of the open heart.
However, much of the time, our heart is blocked, obscured - somehow limited. This can feel like a wall has gone up between our hearts and our awareness. In that state, we become easily confused & misled. This is when we're most suspectible to harmful choices. One of the more dastardly aspects of this design is, as we reside in our susceptibility, our confused minds will inundate us with harmful suggestions. Becoming more and more conditioned to this state, we gradually succumb more and more, losing ever further sight of our clear minds and heart truths. Confusion becomes our norm. In all the confusion, we lose sight of the fact that we're even confused, and we often overcompensate with vanity, arrogance, proud detachment, victimhood, shame spiralling, and other misguided coping strategies. This drives us even further into our lostness.
This is where the mirrors come in.
In the mirror of introspective awareness, we get an honest look at our current state. We don't get an assessment, a verdict, etc. Just a plain view, if only a glimpse, of what we're doing. We may have told ourselves we were courageously holding our ground on a matter of great importance. Our mirror may show us a stubborn, scared person who's valuing winning an argument over valuing a relationship. The mirror doesn't force our hand, guilt us into making a healthy choice. The mirror shows us truth and leaves the rest to us.
In the mirror of mindfulness, we receive an honest reminder of our heart's truths. Over our lifetimes we take various essential truths into our hearts. Truths about people we love and our relationships with them, how much they matter to us, our shared history, our deep bonds. Truths about places and activities we love, causes that matter deeply to us. Truths about behaviors that we recognize as healthy and unhealthy, behaviors we commit to doing regularly or commit to abstaining from entirely. Truths about those values and qualities we consider essential to our true nature, those that much faithfully embody and express who we are at our deepest levels.
In the heat of tense moments, in the swirling fogs of confusion and boredom, in the edgy blankness of deep fear, we easily lose sight of our heart truths. Swept up in the moment, we may betray our heart truths. We believe in the moment we have to, there's no better way, the situation demends it, the other deserves it. In so doing, we trick ourselves into abandoning our hearts, which can plunge us even further into the morass of delusion.
The mirror of mindfulness allows us to remember our heart truths in the midst of our deepest darkness. As the moon shows us the sun's radiance in the depth of night, the mirror of mindfulness shows us the heart's truth in the depth of our confusion. The mirror doesn't force our hand, insist we obey, etc. It shows us the truth and leaves the choices to us. The saving grace is that we are now better informed to make our choice. Indeed, we may have an expanded and enlightened outlook on the choice itself. We may realize we don't need to act at all, or that a whole different set of options is available. This expansive perspective comes from reconnecting to the truths of our heart. We go from the peephole of our data-crunching brains to the effortless panorama of the heart lens. From this broadened and calm perspective, virtue flows in and through us, and we are empowered to honor our truths, courageously if necessary.
As we learn to trust our mirrors and humble ourselves before the truth, we break our destructive habits and ingrain healthier habits. Like a pilot who learns to fly by instruments in stormy conditions, we learn to focus on the reliable evidence from our mirrors and to filter our the noise from our roiling confusion.
One day the heart will be open and fully flowing. May that day be today. Until then, we use wise practices to avoid harm, practice virtue, and discipline the mind, as the Buddha famously instructed. May we learn to find and trust our mirrors in the most difficult of times.