Engaged Buddhism

Sitting in meditation last night, I was observing my body react to feelings of excitement and anticipation of an upcoming event. My heart was racing a bit, chest felt tight and pressured, and my muscles were slightly clenched. Suddenly I realized that these are the very same feelings I experience when fear, anxiety, anger and stress are present.
I smiled to myself as soon as I realized this. How strange and yet wonderful to see that my body reacted the same to both sides of the emotional spectrum.
But an even greater lesson came, when the anticipation I had for something exciting did not come to fruition. I could see that my physical reacting was just as misplaced as when I suffer over disturbing emotions. Both the positive and negative possibilities of what may happen later today, or anytime in the future, are simply illusions in our minds. We create these stories of what may or may not happen, and then let them spiral out of control. Our fears never prevent situations from happening or even lessen their impact on us. In fact we likely handle them with far less patience and compassion because of our apprehension.
And our hope or dreams of future events are almost always met with some form of disappointment that we could have eliminated completely without this craving in our minds.

Engaging our minds and observing the body, I find, is a wonderful way to come back to the present.
In watching the physicality of the bodies reaction, one quickly becomes very aware of how the mind is not being present.
With training, I am learning to simply return to the breath and let go of the story that may be developing. I see these as sparks that can quickly turn to fires in the mind.
I also see this clearly as the practice of Bhavana. Meaning that meditation is more than simply sitting on a cushion. Bhavana is the active culmination of virtue, meditation and wisdom. By virtuously attending to the mind, observing the body, and staying aware of the breath, one develops wisdom. And to me, this is engaged Buddhism.

May you each be well, happy and peaceful.