This book is the sort that you'll want to keep for eternity. A great reference place to come back to and re-read and re-contemplate the chapters anew as you progress through your journey. One can spend hours observing and admiring art in all it's exquisiteness, and admire all the painstaking time and effort that has been put into its creation. Appreciating how all the elements come together to create such delicate atmospheres. So many subtle messages are passed to the viewer, enlivening emotions and possibly waking them up to a moment of freshness.
'Are you in pain? Breathe. Are you in distress? Breathe. At first this message seemed very limited to me. And then I understood. The real, full message is, 'Start by breathing. Then everything will become clearer.' The thing to do or think will then become more obvious. Breathing does not change reality, but it does change how we experience it, and preserves our ability to act on it.'
'It's hard to think, I'm going to observe my thoughts'. Often it will seem to us that there aren't any. But this is because we are too close to them. We are so far inside our thoughts, we are our thoughts to such an extent that we take them for reality.'
It seems that Andre tries to explain all the various dimension of being mindful, in so many different settings you might find yourself. He seems to answer so many of the questions one might have when starting mediation or has even after years of practice. Questions you might've had that you'd forgotten you had!
'So mindfulness requires two fundamental skills that enable us to advance down the path of emotional balance. The first involves creating an inner space in which to experience the present moment; the second is noticing this experience as it is and allowing it to exist. To overcome suffering or discomfort, we must first have accepted that they exist within us. We can't leave a place unless we have admitted to ourselves that we have reached it, and we can't free ourselves from suffering that we have never allowed ourselves to acknowledge.'
Act and Don't Act
'We should always be wary of ideas that are not rooted in action; they are like those fruit and vegetables grown hydroponically, which are not rooted in earth but cultivated under glass in an artificial feed solution unrelated to real soil. We should always be wary of theories developed by human beings who are not routinely engaged in action'
Acceptance as Wisdom
In the act of acceptance we can gather up wisdom that comes from not just collecting information around us, but through the experience of being open to all that is happening in the moment, and so discovering a wisdom that comes from a place deep within us that holds certainty. Andre so perfectly points out that the ability to listen well to others can be very valuable for broadening perceptions of ourselves, and life. With so much technology parading into our spaces, out attention and ability to truly listen has become highly compromised. Our thoughts are being cut into short-bites and we are giving less time to the act of contemplation, or even thinking ideas out thoroughly. We'll notice ourselves at times straining to give someone our undivided attention and feeling frustrated that we can't quite grasp all that they are telling us. Yet we only need to shift for a second, of course it's much easier said than done, but if when we collect ourselves and sit back inside of ourselves, then we'll notice how our ears and minds kickstart to taking in someone's words.
'A good place to look for wisdom, therefore, is where you at least expect to find it: in the minds of your opponents.' This is right and true, isn't it? But for this we must have listened to our opponents, and given them the right to exist (we who dream of having only 'approvers'). Then their opinion becomes more intelligent ... The word 'acceptance' can be disturbing, as many people hear it as resignation', so substitute words have been found for it. For example, the philosopher A. Jollien suggests 'assumption'. Aside from Christian significance, the word also refers etymologically to the 'act of taking', of taking on and ultimately accepting. Other speak of 'expansion' - acceptance does indeed involve endlessly making space within ourselves, even for things that disturb and bother us. We must never resign ourselves to them, but nor should we cling on to them negatively through rejection. Rejection and antipathy, like fear, engender dependancy and vulnerability. So yes, we must endlessly make this space within ourselves and dilute our torment and antipathy in a container of infinite size. The more we feel stiffness and rejection towards what comes to us, the more it is important for us to turn towards a vast awareness without object, receiving everything.'
Move Forward, Even when you are Hurt
I particularly like the chapter of 'Hidden Wounds'. It's the old pain and engrained fears that we hold so tight inside of ourselves that really keep knocking us about. Wanting our attention and so ruining our ability to stay present. Yet, if we could muster the total acceptance of them, allowing them to be a part of us, we really could mend and become more whole. Without the Yang how can we ever experience the Yin, or those moments of equanimity? Sometimes in the yoga world that is blooming at such a fast pace, we might feel that we've found a secret passage to a place of fewer trials and tribulations. Possibly a practice that will be miraculously wash our hurt away. And at times it might even seem so. Yet without directly approaching them through a clear 'mental' observation can it really be the case? And even then, I believe our possibly softened scars will be with us always. Andre explains it perfectly ...
'There are visible, physical wounds and there are wounds of the spirit, weaknesses that stem from the past deficits or tragedies. They are invisible, but etched into our minds and flesh. Whether we are aware of them, or whether they lie dormant, these weaknesses turn us into people living between two worlds - apparent normality and secret abnormality.
Experience the Expansion and Dissolution of the Self
Keep your body still; Keep your voice silent; As to mind, don't bind it: let it rest at ease. Let consciousness relax completely. At this time, attachment to "meditation" and "non meditation" clears, And mind remains without any aim or fabrication In self-luminous awareness, vast and transparent.' - SHABKAR, MEMOIRS OF A TIBETAN YOGI.