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Body Like a Mountain, Heart Like the Ocean, Mind Like the Sky

Vidyamala Burch






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Body Like a Mountain, Heart Like the Ocean, Mind Like the Sky

Drawing on the words of Dogen, a 13th century Buddhist monk, we cultivate stability in the body along with a vast and spacious quality of heart and mind.

Beginning the meditation by adopting

as comfortable a position as possible.

The key things to look for is

relaxation and yet alertness.

In the meditation we're going to do

today is based on a wonderful saying

from a great Zen master called Dogen.

And it goes like this.

Body like a mountain, heart like

the ocean, mind like the sky.

So we'll see if we can get a taste of

these qualities during the meditation.

To begin with, let's really

arrive in the body, in the moment.

Taking a deep breath in, and on the

out-breath, resting right down into

the points of contact between the

body and the chair or the floor.

And seeing if you can give the

whole weight of the body up to

gravity, resting and settling.

And feeling into a quality

of stability like a mountain.

Body like a mountain.

Allowing awareness to inhabit

the legs and the torso and

the arms, the neck, the head.

Resting here in each moment.

Grounded, steady, strong, like a mountain.

And coming inside breathing

in the whole body.

Can you get a sense of breathing

in the abdomen and the belly?

Swelling and subsiding,

swelling and subsiding.

And the chest and the

whole back of the torso.

And seeing if we can get a sense of the

volume of the whole torso, expanding

a little bit in all directions on the

in-breath and subsiding a little bit

in all directions on the out-breath.

A sense of 360 degree breathing,

making sure this is natural,

we're not forcing or straining.

But it's as if we let our awareness

drop very deep inside the body

and then our awareness rides.

The movements and sensations of breathing.

And expanding to have a sense of the

whole body participating in this quality

of breathing, the whole body opening

a little bit in all directions on

the in-breath, subsiding a little bit

in all directions on the out-breath.

And now the next great phrase

from Dogen, heartt like the ocean.

And of course, oceans are

vast and they're deep.

Imagining an ocean on a still

day where it's vast, it's deep.

a sense of pliability and fluidity.

And perhaps coming to rest on the heart

center in the body and tuning into our

emotions as we sit here, as we lie here.

What's your emotional weather?

Bright, stormy, cloudy, overcast, clear.

Just getting a general sense of what

your emotional mood is, if you like that,

you're bringing into this meditation.

And placing it within this

broad, vast ocean of awareness.

Just as the ocean is fluid and

changing, allowing your emotions

to be fluid and changing.

For any point you feel overwhelmed, then

broadening awareness to be aware of the

whole body, breathing in the whole body.

You feel a bit numb and cut

off, you don't really know what

you're feeling, that's fine.

But perhaps being a bit more curious,

coming closer, resting in this ocean of

your emotional life, seeing what arises.

And allowing our emotional life to

be fluid and open like the ocean.

Coming into being, passing away,

coming into, being, passing away with

a sense of vitality, a sense of flow.

And seeing if we can be curious

about what we're experiencing,

letting go of any judgments.

Simply arriving inside, the

emotional side of our experience,

as best we can, moment by moment.

Moving on to the next great phrase

from Dogen, mind like the sky.

Mind like a clear, blue,

vast limitless sky,

tuning into any thoughts that

are flowing through the mind.

We all have thinking going on most

of the time, that's really normal.

So just noticing what thoughts are

present and seeing if we can let

them flow across the blue sky of

awareness, the blue sky of the mind,

just like clouds come into being,

pass away, come into being, pass away.

Usually what we do is we jump onto

our thoughts, we over-identify with

our thoughts, we get carried away

or else we suppress our thoughts.

We think we shouldn't be

thinking when we meditate.

But instead we can see the practice

about changing our perspective on

the thinking mind, on our thoughts.

Acknowledge that they're there

and neither suppress them nor get

carried away, but let them pass

across the mind, like a cloud.

Can you get a quality of expansiveness

in the mind, openness and the

mind, like a clear, blue sky.

And now let's broaden our awareness

to hold these three phrases, these

three qualities in our awareness.

Body like a mountain, stable, grounded.

Heart like the ocean, vast, deep fluid.

Mind like the sky, boundless,

clear like a clear, blue sky.

And allowing all of our experience

to arise and pass away, arise

and pass away, moment by moment.

So we're resting in a very

receptive, broad, open awareness.

And as we bring the practice to a close,

bringing the weight of the body to the

foreground of awareness, breathing in

the body to the foreground of awareness.

Perhaps forming an intention to

take this quality that we've touched

into into our day, something we

can come back to again and again.

Stability in the body, openness

emotionally, clarity in the mind.

And when we're ready, we can move

the body and gently and quietly

re-engaged with whatever's coming next.

Thank you so much for

practicing with me today.

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