We are careful when we carry an egg across the room. We stay alert when we cut up an onion with a sharp knife. Clipping our fingernails, threading a needle, walking on slippery cement, scratching an eyeball itch: these are all times that we pay attention. When we are careless or distracted, something unfortunate or even painful can happen. When we practice mindfulness, we bring this same awakeness and awareness to everything we do. Everything. We. Do.
When Buddha described mindfulness, he said: “When we go forward or backward, we apply full awareness to our going forward or backward. When we look in front or look behind, bend down or stand up, we also apply full awareness to what we are doing. We apply full awareness to wearing our robe or carrying our bowl. When we eat or drink, chew, or savor the food, we apply full awareness to all this. When we walk, stand, lie down, sit, sleep or wake up, speak or are silent, we shine our awareness on all this.”
People talk about being aware and mindful. People talk about being in the present moment. But Zen practice is not talking about things. It is being completely present in every moment and mindful in everything we do. Every-thing!
When we practice and live this way, as Buddha said, we overcome grief and sorrow, end pain and anxiety, travel the right path, and realize nirvana.”