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360 Mindful Appreciation: Zen, Mindfulness, and The Unassuming Gifts of Life

There are words that can seeds that take root inside of us; remaining long after they've been spoken or read, echoing realities so profound they help shift our entire perspective. Among these for me is a quote by Sylvia Plath: "I want to become acutely aware of all I've taken for granted."

Her words, like a gentle nudge from Universal Loving Presence, invites us to the doorstep of an important realization: the essence of our existence... our meaning and purpose... can often be noticed and realized in the routine and seemingly unimportant aspects of our everyday life.

In the rushed and distracted world that we live in, it is far too easy to lose sight of the little things. The sunlight gently filtering through the leaves, breeze we get to feel upon our face, the comforting smell of coffee in the morning, or the sound of a laughter or a nearby conversation flowing within the terrain of our experience. We can take these simple miracles for granted, our senses dulled by the incessant noise of the minds thoughts and the relentless pursuit of something 'more' or 'better.'

This is where the practice of Zen and mindfulness can have a positive side effect on our ability to experience our life more fully. Rather than merely acknowledging life's underappreciated gifts, these practices encourage us to appreciate everything that we can.

The Way of Zen and the practice of mindfulness both revolve around the action of intentionally living *AS* the moment, being fully present, open and aware on all channels and frequencies, experiencing each instant in its entirety. This isn't about pursuing perfection or some higher state of consciousness but about embracing the world in its raw and unadorned beauty, cherishing every little detail, and appreciating the incredible gift of just being alive.

It becomes so much easier when we quiet the mind's relentless chatter and tune into the silence underneath. This silence is not empty, but rather filled with the vibrant resonance of life. The sensations, the feelings, the experiences that we often brush aside in our hurry become vivid and full of life. It's like cleaning a dirty window and finally seeing the vibrant colors of the world outside.

Mindfulness helps us cultivate a sense of care-filled appreciation. With each breath we take, with each beat of our heart, we can learn to appreciate our existence and the complex beauty of the world around us. In this space of conscious awareness, we are not just surviving, we're truly living.

The journey to becoming 'acutely aware' of what we've taken for granted is not a one-time event, but rather a continuous process of self-discovery and transformation. Like a gardener tenderly nurturing his plants, we must gently cultivate this sense of awareness in the fertile ground of our minds, watering it with patience, compassion, and love.

The invitation is to be alert from the perspective of appreciation-mind, rather than careless-mind. It's in the ordinary that when we pause long enough that we notice what could be most extraordinary. Our lives are composed of countless moments, each one unique and fleeting. If we only learn to be present, to be truly aware, we will begin to see that there is nothing taken for granted, nothing mundane. There's just life in all its continuous unfolding, here to be appreciated.

As Sylvia Plath calling us in and calling out to us, may we and all beings aspire to become acutely aware of the miraculous that lies hidden in plain sight. Let us live the path of Zen and mindfulness, one step, one breath, one moment at a time. Because it's through this path that we'll truly understand the beauty of the ordinary, the everyday, the taken-for-granted, and in this understanding, we'll find extraordinary joy, serenity, and fulfillment; that reflects being fully whole and wholly free. In This Way Zen is NOT the practice of making us better... More beautiful... More productive... Better adjusted... but as a side-effect more capable of appreciating ThisHereAndNow.

一Reverence and Awe

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