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ARTICLES: PERCEPTION 

The vigilant perception


The vigilant perception

Realizing, observation, attention, vigilance, observer's position... these are words that denote the same thing. To be vigilant means to live consciously for the whole day, week, and year, or for the whole life. It is a constant realizing of our situation, our perceptions, thoughts and actions. For example, when I walk along the street I perceive the air around me, birds singing nearby, approaching other people, my thoughts, my breath, my body, how one foot overrun the other one. When I eat I know that I bite and swallow. When I run I appreciate my breath and the way where I run and where my feet fall. One may say at the present: “I also know that I am going to a shop or to work and I know what I am doing”. However, it is not so simple. How many times has it happened to you that you locked the door and returned to make sure that it really had happened? At that moment you were thinking of something completely different and you did not know at all what you were doing. How many times have you looked for something? It cannot happen if one is vigilant because a vigilant person knows that he/she is turning the key. Then the person does not have to look for the key because he/she is aware of where he/she puts it. Vigilance is a permanent attention. When we are vigilant we do not stick to things. We are in a position of an independent observer.


MIND

Our mind works on its own without our control. Don't you believe it? What do you do when you go somewhere, or when you sit in a car? You talk to yourself. All the time, all day long, all life, before falling asleep; and in the morning immediately after waking up you start the same whirligig again. The result of this is that you cannot accept a different opinion and change the trodden stereotype way. The mind of such a person immediately condemns different ideas, music, lifestyle, food, or a TV programme. “I do not like this music”, says someone without actually listening to the music. The mind interferes at once and the person definitively condemns everything that does not correspond to his conviction.

We continue thinking about the past; we excuse our acts and look for other people to give us excuses. It will not put our acts into a better light. We only have a good feeling when somebody agrees with us and stands up for us. Many times I have heard sentences like: “I told him not to interfere in it. And then, imagine, he began to shout at me”. Now we want our listener to tell us how we do everything right and correctly. We are often listeners of ourselves and our mind is our whisperer and excuser.


THINKING AND PERCEPTION

“Ordinary people perceive so little that they have forgotten that there is a difference between thinking and perceiving. They have forgotten to the extent that they presume that what they think is what they perceive. They project their thoughts into external reality and so they continually move away from reality replacing it by their thoughts”. Victor Sanchez

Thinking is not perception. Human thinking is focused on the external world from which it grasps individually encountered situations and then it continually revaluates them, whereby attach to them. In addition, the mind changes the experienced reality and stops perceiving the world as it is, and replaces it with its own thinking. We still talk to ourselves about our life, what we did, we defend our actions, we feel being offended, or we are just creating our worries. Thinking is a part of our ego. We keep our idea about ourselves and about this world just in shape of our thinking.

In the vigilant perception or in a meditation a person is turned to his or her inside, his consciousness is “with him or her”; such a person can see the external reality without being bound to it or identified with it. Meditation works wherever and whenever. So why should it be constrained only to a certain day moment, body position and closed eyes?


PRESENT MOMENT

The past, the present and the future - this is time. We live in the world that is not stable. The counter will never stop. Some people guess the future, others think about their past and evaluate their actions thinking all the time: “Should I do it?”, “I should not have gone there”, “I should have told him”, “what I thought about it”, “Yesterday I was in the garden”. All thoughts are concentrated on the past or the future and our mind cannot stay in the present. However, the present is the only moment that we can influence. There is a great secret hidden in this tiny, such a short moment, though. Why should we deal with our acts from the past and why should we excuse them? They cannot be changed; we can only learn from them. And what about the future? It does not belong to us either. We may not be here the next moment. Everyday worries that people create are useless, because tomorrow can be completely different. Then you say to yourselves that you worried so much and your situation turned out to be different and your yesterday‘s worries were indeed useless. And what about the present? It is imperceptible by mind. When mind start to deal with it, it become past. Do you understand? Aah, now, I've got it... Now, at once, THIS! Now and what? THIS – but it is already away... Present moment is always new.


WHAT IS IT ALL GOOD FOR?

Thus, you will recognize yourself, your thoughts, attitudes; you will discover your routines and you will gain knowledge of other people's customs. You will get rid of your prejudices and false ways, because you will be able to see. You will have ability to see people inside themselves; you will perceive their weaknesses and intentions. You will not waste your energy and you will not be upset and angry. You will still be peaceful and calm. Nothing will put you out of your temper. By transferring the vigilance into your sleep you will be able to cross the threshold of vigilant dreams. You will not have a feeling of “wasted time” in various life situations. You will start noticing little things and you will be delighted with their charm. Even a single leaf falling down from the tree will make you happy. Freedom will come to you and lots of other things, too, just try it yourself...

Vigilance has given me more than all other possible theories, books, opinions and discussions. It is the experience of being that belongs only to you (and it is very difficult to formulate it into words).


HOW TO BEGIN?

Practising is actually simple. Be aware of yourselves and your surroundings as much as you can, try to focus on what you are experiencing, perceiving, thinking, talking, etc.

You can try it right now. Your eyes are following particular lines of this text. Be aware of where you are sitting and in what position is your body, your hands, how you breathe, and in fact all of your surroundings. Calm your thoughts and be as attentive as possible. Read the text and try to perceive it. While I am writing these lines, I perceive how my fingers keep running on the keyboard; how I am watching my monitor, and I am appreciating the position of my body and the sound of the ambient universe.

The easiest thing (relatively) is to walk along the street and to try to be vigilant just for a little while, but until the moment you come close to your destination, which is only a few steps away. You will see that it is not so simple. Thus, become aware of small things such as putting your shoes on, getting in a car, etc. You also try to approach someone and tell him something vigilantly. Pronounce words clearly and without any rush - do it consciously. You will see what a change appeared on the horizon in comparison with normal unconscious speaking when you say so many useless words. Then you can try everything that comes to your mind: to eat vigilantly, to walk, to read, to watch television, or to go shopping. You do not have to say: “I am sitting right now, I am walking right now, I am breathing right now” - it works also without thoughts, just do not talk and do it.

In the beginning, it is very difficult to remain observant for a longer period of time. Later it becomes easier and easier even in tougher situations. In the course of time, the keeping of heed will be automatic. Afterward, the keeping of vigilance will become an obvious and natural part of you. You will even wonder why other people do not observe this.

And what now at the end of this paragraph? Are you still vigilant? What about your breath and your body position?


VIGILANCE AND BREATH

Observing your breath is one of the most powerful tools on your way to calm down your mind. It is not necessary to change the rhythm of your breath; you do not have to do anything. Nevertheless by observing your breath you deepen it a little. As long as I perceive my breathing - regular breathing in and breathing out - after a while I feel that this breathing has become my cleanser. My thoughts get less heavy and attention gets sharper with each breathing in, as if the wind was blowing inside me.


VIGILANCE AND WALKING

We often walk. We walk daily. We walk to banks, to restaurants, to shops, to the cinema. Walking has become an automatic activity. We simply walk to get somewhere; our steps have a destination. Many times we do not even know which places we have gone through and what we have seen on our way. Our mind is busy with thinking. However, it is the walk that can help us to discover the most beautiful meditation. It is simple. It is enough just to walk and look around, to let the environment influence you, to calm down your mind, to deepen your breathing and just to exist. Suddenly, you realize that you like walking. You do not need to walk somewhere; you do not have to have a destination; walking itself become your aim - the most beautiful one. When you are observant during your walk, you will start to feel it - the energy and comfort. Your steps will be different. People around you will start feeling it as well. Wherever you go, your walk will be like a walk in the woods - a peaceful and satisfying one. People around you will start saying: “That person has a good day today.” However, you will not have a better day; simply all your days will be good.

One day I kept going from “nowhere”; I did not have any destination. It was autumn and colourful leaves were falling down; the wind was playing with me. I watched my breathing and colours and leaves flitting in the air. After a while I met a man. He stopped and asked me: “Where are you going in this weather?” “I am going to take a walk in the woods”, I answered. “Why are you going to the woods? Mushrooms do not grow there any more.” It is a pity that we have made the concept of walking just for making some profit and achieving some goals.


A FEW ADVICES

Do not try to fight with your thoughts. Fighting them would only make them even more vigorous. If you want to weaken them, focus yourself on your core inward self and perceive the world around you without judging it. It is important to start your day with calming down your thoughts. Try to be vigilant in all situations. However in the beginning, it is easier to be vigilant when you are alone, for example, during your walk and simple activities. From the beginning it is difficult to practise vigilance when you communicate with people and when you are in hard-hitting situations. Later on it becomes the most beautiful experience. It is easier to start right in the morning than trying to sustain your attention in the middle of the day. If you are tired, or if you are in a boring situation and you have a problem to remain vigilant, change this situation, or do something unusual. If you are not in the mood tuned for vigilance in any way, read some book or some article that will motivate you. It is also good to exchange your experiences with someone who practises vigilance.


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