Once we have all five senses acknowledged in the present moment, we can work with the thinking mind in a new way. A revolutionary way, perhaps, for some of us, or perhaps it’s familiar to us in other ways we’ve practiced meditation. This unique approach, though, is about embodiment and the senses being the support for seeing thoughts as like butterflies and birds in the sky of the mind and senses.
Hopefully the precision and explicitness of this instruction will help us feel confidence in being able to do a meditation in which we let our thoughts just be like clouds in the sky and we know how to do that.
We’ll start by going through the 5/5/5 to set the ground. We begin with sight for five seconds, just noticing what we see. Now sounds, what can we hear? Smells. Taste. Touch.
Now we’ll start with the body, the earthiness and groundedness of body sensation as the foundation.
Then layering in tongue and taste, the touch quality of tongue is part of the body but then opens into the realm of the uniqueness of the feelings and qualities of the sensations of taste.
Feeling the body, taste and tongue, then moving into the nose and smell, noticing how smells relate to the tongue but are their own way of sensing and slightly different.
We have body/touch, tongue/taste, nose/smell, adding in ears/sound. Body, taste, smells, sounds, and then sights. Body/touch, tongue/taste, nose/smells, ears/sounds, eyes/sights.
Now all the senses together. Just letting them shine. Feeling the spaciousness of just letting the senses be, the whole family is together, you are part of the world. There is a clear, spacious quality to this.
Then thoughts arise in the sky of the senses. Here, the instruction is that thoughts are like butterflies or birds flying through the sky, or clouds. The sky is not disturbed or in any way distracted.
In fact, all of those things are expressions of the sky of the senses, body/touch, tongue/taste, nose/smell, ear/sound, eye/sight, and the thinking mind is now put in its place, meaning it’s a little bit smaller.
We’re giving thoughts less emphasis, we’ve given far too much attention to our thoughts for too long, and now we’re giving some equity to the senses. Their presence is rebalancing us, connecting us to the larger world of which we are a part, going beyond our own opinions and self concerns, seeing those thoughts as part of the space.
Thoughts are still important, they’re not being repressed, and we’re also not giving thoughts energy, we’re not focusing on them and giving them prominence over the senses. We’re letting them just come and really just actually doing absolutely nothing with them. We’re staying with the senses and noticing thoughts as they do whatever they would like to do.
It is the same as watching a butterfly fly by. You are the forest and the butterfly flies through. There is nothing to do. You just be.
This meditation is easier to do when we’re working with small thoughts. If you bring up bigger emotions or stronger situations, the magnetism or gravity or pull towards those emotions and thoughts is stronger and it can be more difficult to stay in allegiance with the senses.
Over time we’re developing this mountain-like confidence that our body and senses are like the forest or the mountain itself, and whatever happens in it doesn’t really change it. The mountain is the mountain and the forest is the forest. Our senses are our senses.
We sometimes feel separate from nature and really what is so beautiful about our senses is that they remind us that we’re always part of nature. Our senses are an expression of nature.
We can return to our nature of spacious, clear light of being, by allowing thoughts to just be part of the bigger field of the senses and staying with that connectivity of the senses.
Feeling that spaciousness, that shift in perspective that allows us to have more distance between the intensity, the size of thoughts almost becomes smaller and we see them for what they are: they are beautiful, and they neither need to be stopped nor glommed onto.
Throughout your day, please practice with the five senses, spending time with each, and then stacking or layering them all. Flashing on all the senses together is also something you can try now, having done this for a little while. This is a very empowering way of feeling a connection with the world that you are a part of, the bigness, the big heart and big mind, of our buddha nature.