Book Club: Meditation Eknath Easwaran

Book Club, Chapter 5  Training the Senses
Thank you to all who attended yesterday.  What a great discussion and wonderful insights.  It is so interesting to hear others experiences as we travel through this book together!
Living in physical form has its rewards and definitely its challenges as well.  This chapter is on the many ways we are challenged each day by our senses.
Eknath discusses on page 141 that like any other skill, training our senses takes practice and a desire to do so.  He says that once trained our senses become our “trusted servants” but untrained become our “oppressive masters”.  The challenge for many of us is first in becoming aware of what we are responding to when we automatically eat, or turn on the TV or check our e-mail.  For so many of us, we do things without much thought or awareness, it has become a habit.
He says that we begin by denying the body things that injure it.  (pg 142) When we eat foods that are not nutritious, we are impairing the body’s smooth functioning.  So many of these foods taste good, and we give in to the sense of taste.  He states that the “body’s needs should determine what we eat, not the appeal of the senses.” (pg 143)  The more aware we become the less appeal non-nutritious foods will have for us and the more it will bother us to watch as others harm their bodies.  He encourages us to start our children on healthier fare and not give in to ads for sugar filled cereals and other non-nutritious foods geared specifically to children through TV ads.
The next step is to eat only when hungry.  When we keep nuts and candies around the house, we pick as wander by, eating because it is there, not because we are hungry.  “Our attention is divided and we eat compulsively rather than from hunger.” (pg 145)  He then goes on to say that it is best if we overeat to skip the next meal, but rather than overeating try to stop eating when you are still a bit hungry.  (pg 148)  I thought this was rather timely with Thanksgiving coming up!
Our eating habits are so entrenched and there are so many temptations to distract us, he notes that it takes time as well as patience and persistence to prevail.  He discusses using your mantra, going for a brisk walk, and meditating as options to use rather than eating when we are upset, lonely or depressed. We all have to take personal responsibility.  We have choices and we alone are responsible for how we treat our bodies and our minds.
We need to be aware of the word we speak.  On page 159 he gives three gateways to check before speaking.  Are your words true, are they necessary and are they kind?  If the words do not meet all criteria they need not be spoken.  He goes on to say that not only are words misspoken destructive to the recipient…” they are terribly destructive to the consciousness of the person who uses them.”
We also need to be aware of what we watch on TV and at the movies.  Increasingly, we are watching more and more violence.  He notes that not only do we watch violence but we pay to do so.    Violence is seen by many as a possible solution to problems and more and more as a nation we are becoming insensitive to violence.  When we choose to become aware we become more selective in what we chose to watch, read and listen to.  On page 161 he states that “when we stimulate the sense unduly, vitality flows out through them like water from a leaky pail, leaving us drained physically, emotionally and spiritually.”  When we train our senses, we conserve our vital energy.  We mindfully choose what to surround ourselves with and we feel secure within ourselves.
On page 162 Eknath states that “When we learn to train our senses and master our desires, fewer and fewer of these waves (desires) rise up.  Gradually the mind becomes still so that we can discover our real identity.”
This is the goal for many of us as we continue to practice the ideas he gives us in this book.
Next week Book Club will meet on Saturday from 1-2:30.  Bring your lunch if you would like as we will meet right after meditation class.  Have a great week.

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