The Mindful Path – The Lion’s Mind
By Marilyn Halpern, LSW, ACSW ~
“March comes in like a lion, goes out like a lamb.”
As it turns out, this weather-wise expression has several origin stories. It has been attributed to the playwright, John Fletcher (1624) and the writer, Thomas Fuller (1732). It certainly has stood the test of time.
The expression is of special interest as we deepen our meditation practice. Some people may erroneously believe mindfulness is supposed to result in blissful euphoria. Our minds become lamb-like. Take some deep breaths for ten minutes, clear your mind, and boom you are set to go. For those whose minds race with thoughts or those who find they are caught in an endless loop of negativity, mindfulness can seem frustrating and pointless.
The metaphor of the Lion’s Mind was introduced in Breath by Breath (1998) by Larry Rosenberg. The concept compares how a dog responds to waving a bone. All of the dog’s attention will be drawn to the bone. His eyes will track the bone in eager anticipation. In contrast, if a person waved a bone in front of a lion, the lion is more likely to see beyond the trivial bone to sustaining prey – you! Often in our frantic lives with our wild minds, we are consumed by thoughts. The Lion’s Mind encourages us to pause to see the source, to see the big picture. We are encouraged to contemplate the energy we give to events, thoughts and circumstances that may be inconsequential or out of our control.
For our March mindfulness practice, set a timer for 10-30 minutes. Begin with three slow, steady, deep breaths. Notice the sensation of our bodies supported sitting upright. Slowly turn your head from side to side. Gently, nod your head up and down noticing any tension in the neck. As the breath becomes more rhythmic and steady, shrug your shoulders up and down. As the body becomes more relaxed with the breath, close your eyes or soften your gaze. Begin to notice any thoughts that come to your consciousness. Allow the thoughts to come to your awareness without judgement, reaction or criticism. The thoughts are as light as air, coming and going. Direct your time with slow, steady breaths.
After your practice, begin to notice if your thoughts are more focused on substance and the big picture or does your mind latch onto the “bones.” Sometimes we can get caught up in our perceptions, experiences and doubts. Mindfulness takes courage and fierceness. After all, we are trying to corral our mind which is so powerful it can dictate our demise or promote our wellbeing. For March, as we look forward to the first spring blossoms on the snow laden ground, our Lion’s Mind can be developed.
Marilyn Halpern is a geriatric care manager and guardian in the Denver Metro area. To learn more visit www.aspencareservices.com or call 720-724-0000.