In recent classes, I’ve been addressing one of the functions of mindfulness, namely its capacity to monitor objects that enter our awareness at each of the sense doors.
Mindfulness sees ‘images’, hears ‘sounds’, feels ‘bodily sensations’, knows ‘thoughts’, etc.
Ajahn Brahm, a monk based in Australia, likens this function of mindfulness to that of a competentgatekeeper who watches over what enters the gate of our consciousness.
In formal meditation, Brahm suggests establishing an inner gatekeeper as a way of reducing the sense of personal doer-ship in the practice. Often, as meditators we can get quite active in trying to get the practiceright. To correct this imbalance, Brahm recommends giving part of our mind, the gatekeeper, simple and clear instructions at the beginning of a sitting, and then backing off, allowing the gatekeeper to learn and refine its roll.
For example, if you’re developing Present Moment Awarenes, you might simply instruct the gatekeeper, “I am now aware of the present moment, neither lost in the past nor the future.” Or if you are cultivating awareness of the breath, you might prompt the gatekeeper with, “I am now aware of the breath exclusively.”
It is recommended to repeat this simple statement of instruction three times, and then relax. Just sit back and let the gatekeeper work out its duty.
Personally, I’ve found this simple technique very helpful for establishing a sense of relaxed ease with the practice.
Originally published on February 2, 2012