Friday, April 1, 2011


One of my all-time favourite books is The Prophet by the Lebanese poet-artist-philosopher Kahlil Gibran (pictured opposite). If I had to get rid of all my books but one – something which would please my wife greatly (for I have literally thousands of books) – I think I would choose The Prophet as the one book to retain. Either The Prophet or The Little Prince.

There is a wonderful line in The Prophet that goes like this ... “But let there be spaces in your togetherness.” The line appears in the section of the book dealing with marriage, but it occurred to me that it also has something important to say about the practice of mindfulness.

Mindfulness involves bare attention to, and choiceless awareness of, the action of the present moment ... from moment to moment. As I have said many times before, choiceless awareness means that we allow ourselves to be aware of whatever arises in the unfolding of each moment ... whether in the body or in the mind.

At times in our mindfulness practice we may experience “storms” of strong emotions or dominant thoughts. That’s OK, for whatever arises is what’s predominant and compelling.

It's all part of the "togetherness", metaphorically speaking, that makes us the person we are.

The important thing is give those emotions, thoughts, sensations, sounds, etc, “space”. Give them “space” ... and they will diminish over time.

Yes, we need to make room in our mindfulness practice, and in our daily lives, for "empty spaces" ... that is, for "doing nothing". The latter has nothing to do with not doing something. It has everthing to do with pausing ... and remaining silent ... "stopping the action", so to speak. That way, you will give yourself time to "sense" your own internal processes.

Relax between each experiential moment, and you will find that the intensity of the experience (whether thought, emotion, bodily sensation or whatever) will subside. Yes, it will.

So ... let there be spaces ... .

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