Mindful Happiness – Mountain Metaphor
The mountain journey metaphor has often been used for mindfulness practice (J. Kabat-Zinn) and spiritual experience of inner clearing and healing (L. V. Andrews). Here I will paraphrase and modify both of these approaches into brief versions for your practice. Practice this and find your center of true inner happiness beyond reactions to the joy-neutrality-suffering cycles of samsara’s sense-doors experiences. The first meditation on happiness will be to travel up your mountain of life and arrive at a true-self understanding of the ultimate nature of happiness within. The second mountains meditation will be far more spiritual – perhaps, even, a bit shamanic. In some ways, these mountain meditations are like Rumi’s poem, The Guest House. You are the experiencer of the experiences, and this occurs beyond reactions of clinging to joy or avoiding suffering. Prepare to climb your mountain of emotional life.
The Mountain Meditation (Highly adapted from J. Kabat-Zinn’s version)
- Begin in a sitting meditation posture and complete a brief body scan. Allow your breath to breathe you as it is, and let go of any noticed stress, tension, or tightness in your body. Sit still and notice physical sensations as your body makes contact with the cushion, floor, mat, etc. Just BE your dignified self, sitting still in this very moment. If/when you mind moves away from the experience of just sitting, gently return attention to your body sitting quietly here now. As you notice the mountain, go inside yourself to experience it. Use your imagination.
- Calm yourself and imagine a beautiful mountain in front of you. Select your favorite season; notice the rock ledges and waterfalls; be with the trees as they become less and less dominant near the top. Perhaps there are snow peaks or multi-colored foliage covering the mountain. Just notice for now. Just observe it. Behold it!
- Allow yourself to be grounded by this huge mountain of stability- silent, centered, just still presence. Perhaps you can notice how the sun passes over the surface bringing warmth. Notice also that night and cold follow daylight and warmth. The sun trades places with the moon and stars. Each season brings a different emotional climate to the mountain. It is ALL about impermanence. Like the mountain you know you cannot hold onto joy, skip neutrality and avoid suffering. You are just like the mountain – as time, causes, and conditions change so does the mountain’s emotional character. You are just like this mountain as you experience all there is in life – the good times, the bad times, and the neutral times. Keep nothing as you climb up the mountain. The mountain – and YOU – just sit and experience the world and its ultimate realities. Be with whatever is; do not react in any way – just be aware, notice, and find inner safety and joy in being you (with this mountain) here and now. Continue to climb the mountain in your mind’s eye. As you ascend you may feel the energy of your moving body in your legs, perhaps in your heart and lungs. Notice what you see and experience as you climb up.
- As you climb up the mountain neither you nor the mountain can reach back into the past to find a warmer Spring day in the sunlight; you and the mountain must simply BE with your experience in the moment of storms, cold, dark, lonely times. Both you and the mountain have experienced “:dark nights of the soul.” Neither you nor the mountain will be helped to linger in the past, be it pleasant or unpleasant. The past is over. Neither you nor the mountain can move into the future; it has not yet been formed by causes and conditions beyonds our control. The future cannot be controlled. Sit only in the present being with what is now, and find that inner strength and stability in the mountain of your soul. Be joyous for what you have now. Be joyous for being human. Be joyous for being able to BE WITH whatever is at this time in your present moment of experience. Be like the mountain – stable, strong, centered and unmovable. Experience happiness inside for these things.
The Circle of Life at the Top of the Mountain
(Highly adapted from L. V. Andrews Ritual)
1. Relax, gently close your eyes and imagine you have just climbed a high mountain representing your spiritual life. You see a cleared circle at the top and realize that you are on the outer ring of it; you are like the particle riding the wave of the outer circle. As you observe the circle you allow yourself to be part of the earth’s deeper consciousness; you see the tree of life and the turtle – representing the power of the earth in all directions.
2. You are willing to allow spirit animals and ancestors to support you in your journey into deeper healing. You allow mother earth and father sky to hold the circle in safety. You look to the South and allow the sacred mouse to enter the circle; this brings trust and safety into the circle. You look to the West and allow the sacred bear to bring intuition and self-reflection – trust your deep inner voice. You look to the North and allow the buffalo to bring storms of wisdom into the circle. You look to the East and allow the spirit eagle and your higher self to bring illumination and light into the circle. You look up into the sky and allow the great spirit to bring ultimate truth into the circle. Now you allow all your ancestors – known and unknown – to enter the circle; now the inner circle is complete with all the spiritual powers you may need to open your heart to complete inner healing.
3. Now the work begins! Breathe deeply, slowly to allow the gathering of this spiritual power to enter you; feel the support and love in your heart and soul. Stay with your imagination! Do your best not to block the process with your thinking. Allow the inner healing of your mind, body, spirit, heart, and soul to begin. Just notice the feelings. Notice the movement of spiritual energies helping you to be your higher self in peace and happiness. Allow the circle of healing to be one with you. ENTER the circle now and absorb all there is there. Just BE! Notice the inner feelings of love, kindness, and personal healing. Listen to your words; observe your thoughts; feel your sensations and emotions; and, allow your spirit-strengths to LET GO of all negative energies. Feel being in YOUR inner peace and joy!
For more information see Kabat-Zinn, J. (1990). Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness. New York: Delta Trade Paperbacks, pp. 126-127 and Andrews, L. V. (1990. 2007 edn.). New York: J. P. Tarcher/Penguin, pp. 3-44.
For more information see Andrews, L. V. (1990, 2007 end.). Teachings Around the Sacred Wheel. New York: Tarcher/Penguin, pp. 3-44.
By Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
Author of Mindful Happiness
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