Hi All –
Last week I had the pleasure of doing the Tricycle Talk on Tricycle magazine’s website. Check it out, and let me know what you think. This is an audio interview with Eric Wetzel – thanks Eric, I had a wonderful time!
We talked about mindfulness in general, and a little about Zen Mindfulness in specific. For instance, what makes it “Zen”? Most mindfulness approaches are based on Buddha’s Four Foundations of Mindfulness, whether they acknowledge it or not. And, all bring us into a clear awareness of this present moment. Zen Mindfulness adds several new facets to the process, but the one that makes it “Zen” is the emphasis on experiencing the foundation of our reality, this vast and clear living moment that contains all the details of our life. Once we’ve found this “place” and have learned to return to it as needed, we can shift toward spending more of our time in this state of clear awareness and less time daydreaming.
In the interview we talked about the impact of new technologies on our practice, and one metaphor I brought up is the fundamental programming of graphical user interfaces (GUI). At the heart of every modern operating system – computer, tablet, phone – is a basic loop of instructions usually called “idle”. Here’s how it goes:
1) Check for input (keyboard, mouse, touchscreen, etc).
2) If input, route it to the currently-active app or program for handling.
3) Give all running programs a chance to do background processing.
We can use this a metaphor for our own mental processing. In Zen Mindfulness we learn to release the “background processing” earlier and earlier, so we spend more time in the “idle” level. This background processing is the place we call Storyland, the place of the daydreams, the mind-movies, the regrets of the past and hopes and fears for the future. This Storyland isn’t a problem in itself; it’s only a problem when we spend too much time there. So we learn to return to “idle”, to the non-differentiated foundation of our reality. The important aspect of this metaphor is the cycle – continuously moving through the states of inquiry (check for input), action (route the input to the appropriate app) and digestion (background processing) without getting stuck in any of them.