Awakening Bodhicitta

Dear heart-

A few words on Awakening Bodhicitta.

In Buddhism, bodhicitta is a spontaneous wish for a compassionate mind.

Bodhicitta is a combination of the Sanskrit words bodhi and citta.  Bodhi means “awakening” or “enlightenment.” Citta means “that which is conscious” or in other words, “the conscious mind.”

Therefore, Bodhicitta may be translated as “awakening mind.”

Or it is the mind that strives toward awakening and compassion. But the more you study bodhicitta, the more there is an element of the spontaneous about it. In many ways, you happen upon this wish for empathy and love for all beings.

An interesting benefit of breaking my leg last year is that I have begun to pay attention to movement differently. Ironically, it is the inability to move that has given me this special attention for movement. I notice the feeling of my feet touching the ground. I notice slow steps I take. My senses are awakened. I don’t just feel the steps. I hear them. I see them intentionally.

The gift of being forced to move carefully and with great intention is that I watch how I move through my day. I am keenly aware of what a miracle it is that our bodies carry us through life. Each day they hold space for our way of being in the world.

Before I broke my leg, I was perhaps pushing too much. In fact, maybe my body found a rather drastic way to slow my movements down. The universe is showing me a slower, gentler way of moving through the world.

Now that I am moving slower, I observe that others in the world seem to be moving so quickly. I am not evaluating their movements as “good” or “bad.” Rather, I notice that I have a compassionate wish for others to experience the joy of slow movement. I wonder if it would give others more joy to feel the ground beneath their feet.

When someone is walking with me, naturally, they are keeping a slower pace, as my injury has given me the gift of being the one to choose the speed with which we walk. I notice the way my daughter moves slowly alongside me as I step slowly. I feel the spontaneous wish for her to enjoy all the ways her body is carrying her. I believe that is bodhicitta.

My husband and I have resumed our walks together, but at a much slower rhythm than we used to take them. We go shorter distances, but stay out for just as long. With slow steps, we see more wildlife. I’ve seen trees I’ve never noticed before. I see something new every time we go out. Where I would normally expect to be frustrated by how much my injury is slowing me down, I observe that am experiencing joy just to be able to walk. Even to stand up can feel like a miracle.

I encourage you to give yourself the gift of being, walking and standing in your life in a pace that allows you to feel deeply into body, mind and spirit. Noticing is such a beautiful way to practice loving kindness.