An evening with Clive Sheridan on taming the tendrils of the mind

Here are my notes on Clive Sheridan’s workshop class (3/12/2010) on opening the heart and on pruning/weeding the lantana that is the mind.

The real challenge in everyday living is to embrace worldly pursuits (dharma and artha) and to find our own slice of worldly happiness (kāma) without getting caught up with, and mesmerized by, the constant activity of life.

We cultivate a sense of alertness, to bear witness to the timely unfolding of our lives. Our practices of attentiveness allow us to become more at ease with ourselves in our physical bodies, without applying strategy, and without being concerned with the memories of our past and dreams of our future – the axes that underpin all human suffering.

By sitting quietly, simply for the sheer delight or joy of sitting, with the mind at ease, we can begin to hone our alertness (mindfulness), and become completely aware of our innermost thoughts. In order to open ourselves, we must closely examine our own frailty, such that we become totally familiar with all aspects of ourselves, and we come to acknowledge that the experience of life itself is but a veil of illusion (māyā) – a continuous dream. The veil of illusion affects any strategy that our minds can produce.

Like an itch that you start to scratch, our hydra-like thoughts only extend and become more agitated, when we continue to feed them.

It is sometimes in the midst of nature that we come to experience the mental surrender of meeting with the transcendent (īśvarapraṇidhāna) – the concept of an unchanging existence, beyond all suffering and beyond knowing.

As we lovingly surrender to truth/grace (satya), and lovingly stay alert to the abject totality of the painful, contracting tendencies of our nature, we learn to acknowledge the patterns of the barrage of our thoughts and memories, and we learn to pay more closer attention to the present moment, because any energy that is projected onto the future is total fantasy.

Dare to let go of our identities.

Fear has power over us when we feed it. We fear our mortality, because of our attachment to our identities, which encompass the personalities who we think we embody, as well as the physical bodies that we occupy and think we own.

Pay attention to the contracting, negative tendencies, and lovingly ignore the mental chatter. As we continue to study and ignore our thoughts and fears, they cease to perturb us.

Do not expect to achieve anything other than to enjoy the present moment. If we open our hearts and avoid focusing on negativity, then even the most mundane tasks can take on joyful meaning.

No baggage. You do not have to carry mood around with you.