DHARMA & MINDFULNESS
The word "Dharma" has several translations, and ultimately means "truth".
Its root comes from the Sanskrit "dhr-", which means to hold or to support, and is related to Latin firmus (firm, stable). From this, it takes the meaning of "what is established, firm", or "what's true", a meaning of "bearer, or supporter". Thus it is referring to how things are, the way of things, the truth of things, how it is right now.
My connection to Dharma springs from my affinity for the teachings of the Buddha and Taoism (also a related word etymologically to Dharma). My studies of the Buddha Dharma began in 2000. I'm particularly interested in the teachings of Vajrayana Buddhism, closely related to Tantra, and the teachings of Hatha Yoga. My studies of Taoism arouse out of this and have been a main thread for me since 2010.
The practices & teachings that arise out of living the Truth of things can take many forms. For me, the foundations of such a life include the following:
1. Living, knowing that life can be difficult and at times painful. And so allowing that truth to call up in me compassion for myself, and others, as we navigate this human experience together (NOT alone, even though it can feel like that at times).
2. Everything arises and falls away in it's time. This whole thing was designed to fall apart. All the things we cherish break down, and all the people we love will die. Our own life is fragile and temporary. My own death is certain. From living this truth I'm encouraged to celebrate what is here! I live & love in the moment, as much as I can, and use that connection to make the most good for the most beings I can with the time I have. Alas, I then am not surprised by the death of loved ones or the destruction of the material world – not surprised, yet heartbroken. I'll let my heart break, I'll weep, and embrace the sadness, grieving and care that arises from this truth.
3. Each human being has the full capacity to awaken to and live these truths. If we can lay down our surface busyness, or unwind our habitual tendencies we use to block out the pain of our human experiences, then we can find freedom in the depths of our Deeper Being. It's when we resist, push back against, or collapse under the pressures Reality places on us that we deny ourselves the ultimate freedom of dancing with Reality just as she is. Inner freedom is possible!
4. These approaches to living need support in practice and community. This is where meditation, mindfulness practices, and connections with others are essential.
...has a couple basic forms:
1) single pointed attention (called Shamatha) and
2) open space of awareness presence (called Vipasana).
We need to cultivate both skills. They do different things for our body-heart-minds and when we can skillfully sustain both techniques for a span of time, it can be felt that they beget each other. The more we practice (anything) the more we can embody it, and live from that place.
...is the new word for "meditation". Mindfulness practices are the same thing as meditating – watching, coming to know, and relating to your mind. Practicing does not have to be a formal ritual of sitting down, being still and quiet. We can bring the practices, intentions and benefits of meditation/mindfulness to our pedestrian life: moving about our days with a felt sense of knowing and feeling how life is affecting us. We can notice in real time what our inner reactivity and responsiveness is offering us and we can calibrate what we do with it on the fly. In this way we've a lived experience of our own evolution and capacity to be a good human citizen.
...are everywhere. Strike up a convo with your neighbor, or a friend who's never considered such stuff! Do a search for meditation or mindfulness groups in your area. Or connect with a local teacher.