Growing in Mindfulness

By Sandro M. DuBois For the last five weeks, I have tried to be mindful of one of the precepts daily for one week, trying to keep the broad idea in my mind and to realize how it might affect everything that I was doing throughout that day. I wish I could say that I was measurably successful. In truth, it has shown me how unmindful I can consistently be and it often makes me more judgmental. But the good news is that I have found, with practice, I can look for the Buddha becoming in myself, as well as in others, and I can become more mindful even if it is only for a few moments each day.

Since receiving the first books from Parallax Press last summer, there have been many changes in my life. Unfortunately, I am still too fat, half bald, and what little hair I still have is still grey. But I am more aware. And I am aware that it is possible and profitable to be mindful.

I was sitting before last summer, but since that time my sitting has become more productive, if less comfortable in some ways. You may consider adding to the preface of Thich Nhat Hanh's books: "Warning: mindfulness directly affects your quality of life and the quality of being for all those you come in contact with, but honest mindfulness can be less than comfortable at times."

I realize the precepts are not a promise that I will never, or always, do something, but they are not something I want to take without some understanding on my part as to what they really signify to me. Sometimes when one begins to look, begins to see new potential and avenues, there is a tendency to jump from one new idea to the next, wanting to take advantage of all of them. Additionally, often there is a fear of leaning on an idea and being hurt because it fails to bring a desired conclusion or effect. Trying to understand this, over the last several months I have developed a deep desire to practice one philosophy for the remainder of my life; to reach a better understanding of myself, my world and my role in that world.

My practice gives me great calm. It is alright for me to be where I am. It is alright to feel the pain and suffering in others and myself. It is often uncomfortable but this is acceptable because it leads to my being real in the present moment. I think, in many ways, it is hard to practice here, but it may be easier here than where you are. I bow deeply to the community for choosing daily to be who you are in the midst of so much distraction, challenge and opportunity. There is much violence here, most of it from fear and insecurity, from lack of understanding, and lack of an observable demonstration of a viable alternative. Which is very sad. At the same time, I believe there is much desire here to be more than we are. There is no one answer. There are only individuals practicing.

Sandro M. Dubois is a prison inmate in North Carolina.

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