Mindfulness on the Mountain
Sewanee, TN 37375
Deliberate and Effortless Mindfulness
What has come to be known as “mindfulness” in the West most typically comes in two “flavors.” The first flavor is Focused Attention, which is a concentration practice (or samadhi in Buddhist teaching). The object of attention may be breathing, or sounds, or the world of bodily sensations, or a mantra, or a visual image. The second flavor of mindfulness as it has come to the West is Open Monitoring, or choiceless awareness (known as vipassana in Buddhist teaching). Choiceless awareness is less focused and more “open” than Focused Attention. Choiceless awareness can be likened to someone sitting on the bank of the stream of consciousness, witnessing what is passing by, without focusing on any particular content.
Focused Attention and Choiceless Awareness are two flavors of what is known as “Deliberate Mindfulness.”
There is a third, and less commonly known flavor of mindfulness, known as Effortless Mindfulness (or rigpa in Tibetan Buddhism), which is the awareness of awareness itself, or Non-Dual Awareness. Here the focus of attention is not on contents in consciousness, but on consciousness itself. In this case, the practitioner turns and shifts awareness back on itself. Because awareness is not striving, not trying to get anywhere, not trying to make anything happen, not resisting anything, awareness “recognizes” itself as “effortless.” Effortless Mindfulness is a recognition of what is already here, a “flashing on the awakened heart-mind.”
Come join us for a weekend of Deliberate and Effortless Mindfulness practice. This will be a Silent retreat. There will be both guided and silent meditations, mindful walking and the mindful movement of Qigong, silent meals (except for the opening Friday dinner), and evening teaching. Both beginners and those with experience in mindfulness practice are most welcome.
The Rev. Gordon Peerman, DMin, is an Episcopal priest and leader of One River Wisdom School Nashville, a mindfulness meditation group in Nashville. He has been engaged with contemplative practices, including Centering Prayer, mindfulness meditation, yoga, and chi gong since 1975. He has taught Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction at Vanderbilt and St. Thomas Health Services, as well as classes in Buddhist Christian Dialogue at Vanderbilt Divinity School. He is the author of Blessed Relief: What Christians Can Learn from Buddhists about Suffering. He lives in Nashville.