If I may begin with a cliché, the holidays are upon us. Round about now, many folks brace themselves for an onslaught of Dionysian disportment while at the same time a chaste eye is cast towards January first, marking this date for when they might begin undoing a month’s damage to their waist-lines and dietary indiscretions.
During times of such variegated stresses, I so appreciate management strategies borne of simplicity.
For gustatory guidance, none are more succinct than Michael Pollan’s sagacious approach: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” Seven words. Crystal clear. Easy to remember.
(Of course a certain amount of education is required to establish the criteria for what real food actually is. Pollan’s excellent book, In Defense of Food, handles that topic marvelously.)
So while these seven words will help people with their food consumption through the holidays and beyond, an equally elegant approach to meditation might be helpful.
I propose: OBSERVE REALITY. AS IT IS. MOSTLY BREATH. When awareness observes reality with mindful attention, one’s mental diet becomes composed of experiences happening only in the present moment. This immediately uncouples one from the mental consumption of past and future fabrications.
What is the past but thoughts in the present sustained by preservatives? And the future? The present moment injected with additives. The result is a mental diet that leads to indigestion and bloat. Reality, as it is, burns far more cleanly.
Granted, the present moment is an acquired taste. Children reared on fast food don’t, overnight, become grand gourmands. But, breath by breath, the Heart does find nourishment and ease through attunement to reality.
So before your next meditation session, try just repeating that simple injunction:Observe Reality. As it is. Mostly Breath.
Originally published on November 30, 2011