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Mindfulness in daily life: 'Best practices' - Dhamma Wheel

Mindfulness in daily life: 'Best practices'

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
Kabouterke
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Mindfulness in daily life: 'Best practices'

Postby Kabouterke » Wed Aug 14, 2013 4:19 pm

Meditators are often just given the instructions "be mindful in daily life." But, as we all know, the vagueness of these instructions make being mindful in daily life sound deceptively easy. After five minutes, a number of obvious questions will arise in someone who is earnestly trying to be mindful: "...HOW?!...WHY?!... What's the point?" -- "What am I supposed to be mindful of... and what am I NOT supposed to be mindful of?" -- "What does 'being mindful' of something actually mean, anyway?" Sometimes you'll come across publications that try to go a little further into detail, but you usually just get even more vague instructions, like "when washing the dishes, just wash the dishes" which makes doing the dishes sound like it should be some sort of intimate, sensual experience where enlightment is just ready to pop out of every little bubble of soap that floats up from the sink.

So, at the end of the day, the meditator is left with the task of being mindful and is left to his own devices. My intention with this thread is to create a forum where we can share what works for us, the practical bits of advice that are not often included in Buddhist publications or taught by teachers. Hopefully, we can help anyone else who is struggling to figure out what this mindfulness thing is all about and keep any newcomers from losing heart and giving up.

____________________________________________________________________________________________
My Technique

One technique that I recently created for myself is alternating between awareness of the four postures (sitting, standing, lying, walking) and switching back to being aware of the sensations that arise from the dominant activity that I am performing at that time. In daily activities, I have only been noting the posture twice (standing...standing...) before switching to the dominant activity, which I also note twice (reaching...reaching...). I have noticed that this quick oscillation between posture and the dominant activity can 1. keep up with the pace of everyday life without making me move as slow as an elderly turtle; 2. works within the framework of the Satipatthana Sutta (mindfulness of body); 3. Stops me from stressing about the tiny details that go under the radar "Oh! I should have been more mindful of the sound of that gnat hitting the windshield! Why oh why isn't my mindfulness strong enough :( ?!?!!?" With this method, you quickly learn what the term "the most dominant action" means when you've only got a split second to choose; and 4. It acts as a natural reminder to stay mindful by not allowing any gaps in your mindfulness: when you limit yourself to two notes per posture/activity, a natural rhythm and momentum builds up that can help us maintain mindfulness with long-lasting objects that we normally easily lose mindfulness of: "Seeing cloud....Seeing cloud... Seeing....Cloud... Clo--- ....OH, ICE CREAM TRUCK!!! :woohoo: "

So, let me give an example of what this little method looks like.
Example: Cooking
1. "(Posture)Standing...standing...(dominant activity)chopping...chopping...(Posture)Standing...standing...(dominant activity)chopping...chopping...(posture)walking to fridge....walking to fridge....(dominant activity)grabbing....grabbing...(Posture)Standing....Standing....(Activity)peeling....peeling...(posture)standing....standing....(activity)peeling....peeling...(posture)standing....standing....(activity)peeling....peeling...(posture)walking....standing.....(dominant activity)grabbing... putting in pot...(posture)standing....standing....(dominant activity)picking up spoon....stirring...(posture)standing....standing....(dominant activity)stirring...stirring...(posture)standing....standing....(dominant activity)stirring...stirring...etc.

A few notes:
1. For the music geeks out there, I've been noting at the rate of 60-70 beats per minute.
2. I don't say the objects in my head (carrot, pot, etc.), but I had to illustrate it somehow.
3. Also, your mindfulness should be energetic, bright and bouncy and should "jump" and cover all of the sensations in the legs (muscle tension, pressure from pushing up against counter with thighs) and the feet (pressure, heat, etc). Same with peeling: we obviously know what were doing, there's no need to remind ourselves that we're peeling a carrot.
4. You should not have any mental images or mental concepts of yourself doing the action. The mindfulness should be firmly connected to the sensation of the vibrations felt when peeling the carrot, the feeling of the little bits of cold juice that splash onto the skin, the feeling of your muscles pulling the peeler down, the resistance, etc.
4. For complex activities, (reading, studying, thinking) I've dropped the switching and the noting completely and simply focused on using "bare mindfulness" to wholeheartedly focus on the task at hand.

This little method just came to me one day, and I soon found out that doing this method meant the difference between being able to maintain mindfulness in little intermittent bursts of a few seconds to being able to do it for hours on end (with the occasional gap, of course... I'm human, after all. :P ). As my mindfulness and concentration develop, I can see how I might drop switching between the posture and the activity and just stay with one or the other, or start incorporating smaller details than I am currently incapable of being aware of. I could also start noting 3, 4, 5 times until my "bare mindfulness" is strong enough to stay with the object without the crutch of the mental noting.

Does anyone else have any "best practices" that you've developed? I hope this thread proves to be useful to us all!

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Spiny Norman
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Re: Mindfulness in daily life: 'Best practices'

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Aug 15, 2013 12:41 pm

"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream."
Dairy Lama

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rachmiel
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Re: Mindfulness in daily life: 'Best practices'

Postby rachmiel » Thu Aug 15, 2013 2:40 pm

Some things that work for me:

Ask myself "What's happening now?" And remain open to what arises.
Become aware of my body, what it feels like to be "in my skin."
Go soft eyes / soft mind and take in the whole, rather than focussing on parts.
See the apparently fixed objects around me as dynamic processes, each in their own timeframe.

And, very important: I don't try to be mindful all the time! That just drives me crazy. What works better for me is to be mindful in relatively short stretches many times a day.
“Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.” Frederick Buechner

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Spiny Norman
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Re: Mindfulness in daily life: 'Best practices'

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Aug 16, 2013 8:27 am

"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream."
Dairy Lama

Lambcinco
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Re: Mindfulness in daily life: 'Best practices'

Postby Lambcinco » Fri Aug 16, 2013 1:05 pm

Mindfulness is one of the side effects of meditation. During meditation, we are training our minds to be one pointed like a spear. As practice continues, the hope is that your mind will function like this throughout the day. I like the analogy of mindfulness being like walking with a bowl of hot soup on your head, you probably would not want to be thinking about much else other than taking each step slowly and securely as to not drop the hot bowl of soup.

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mydoghasfleas
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Re: Mindfulness in daily life: 'Best practices'

Postby mydoghasfleas » Tue Aug 27, 2013 11:40 am

I try to think of doing things "deliberately." I'm deliberately sitting down; I'm deliberately eating my breakfast; etc. it just gives me another way of paying attention to what I'm doing.

Of course keeping that attitude throughout the day is the real challenge, isn't it?

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khlawng
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Re: Mindfulness in daily life: 'Best practices'

Postby khlawng » Tue Aug 27, 2013 12:04 pm

hear and hear only. see and see only. taste and taste only. smell and smell only. feel and feel only. only with a quiet mind, can you be mindful.

pegembara
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Re: Mindfulness in daily life: 'Best practices'

Postby pegembara » Wed Aug 28, 2013 4:51 am

What is the point?
I remind myself the purpose of mindfulness. My body is always present here and now. It cannot be anywhere else but my mind is not bounded by space or time. I could be sitting here but my mind is dwelling in another time and place (daydreaming). Throughout the day, I remind myself to be present and pay attention to what is happening right here and right now especially when I am driving
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

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clw_uk
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Re: Mindfulness in daily life: 'Best practices'

Postby clw_uk » Wed Aug 28, 2013 9:51 am

I try to just rest in awareness and just be aware of thoughts, feelings etc as they arise


In my job though this can be difficult, so if I find my awareness dimming then I switch to mindfulness of the breath

I kinda use that as an anchor, to keep being mindful while doing complicated things
Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken

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retrofuturist
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Re: Mindfulness in daily life: 'Best practices'

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Aug 29, 2013 2:27 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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robertk
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Re: Mindfulness in daily life: 'Best practices'

Postby robertk » Thu Aug 29, 2013 10:50 am


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bodom
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Re: Mindfulness in daily life: 'Best practices'

Postby bodom » Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:19 pm

To study is to know the texts,
To practice is to know your defilements,
To attain the goal is to know and let go.

- Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo


With mindfulness immersed in the body
well established, restrained
with regard to the six media of contact,
always centered, the monk
can know Unbinding for himself.

- Ud 3.5


https://www.dhammatalks.org/index.html
http://www.ajahnchah.org/

Jhana4
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Re: Mindfulness in daily life: 'Best practices'

Postby Jhana4 » Thu Aug 29, 2013 1:00 pm

Someone else brought up thinking about the goals of mindfulness in daily life. The goal of sit down meditation is to be mindful of the 3 marks of existence: impermanence, dukha, and anatta. I find remember that adds value. When I first got involved with Buddhist meditation in the 90s it was with a Thich Nhat Hanh group. Somehow I missed a memo. It seemed like mindfulness was an end in itself. The people who seemed to be blissing out because they were aware of the dish soap bubbles while washing their dishes seemed silly to me. Focusing the mind to apply awareness - mindfulness can be relaxing and seeing things you don't see can be interesting. So there is value in it. I just think there is more value in remembering that mindfulness of the 3 marks makes things more meaningful/valuable/liberating. Does being aware of ones breathing during the 2 minutes of a long traffic light have a chance of doing that? I don't know. Maybe at the least it is a a drop in the bucket in keeping the mind toned the way taking the stairs may not make you fit, but will keep some strength in your legs.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.

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Re: Mindfulness in daily life: 'Best practices'

Postby Jhana4 » Thu Aug 29, 2013 1:01 pm

In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.

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Zenainder
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Re: Mindfulness in daily life: 'Best practices'

Postby Zenainder » Fri Aug 30, 2013 6:37 pm

Great thread!

For myself, I keep it simple. For this I borrow ideas from my entrance into Buddhism which was through Mahayana (Ew!!! I know right! *sarcasm disclaimer*), which taught me being present post meditation. The simple example a learned from and found relatable was when my teacher said "When you are doing dishes, you are there doing the dishes. Present in each action and you're completely present."

Relating this to the untrained it is common to be doing more than just washing the dishes. Such as, fretting bills, relationships, problem solving, etc. even though the present moment contains dish washing, the dish washer is not present in that moment of activity. I was only able to learn present awareness through the practice of meditation. After learning mindfulness, and after some time, present awareness could be applied to more complex activities beyond mindfulness of breathing.

Since then I have learned the ebb and flow that is present in more complex examples such as at work. My profession is an engineer, so my labor is often mental and sometimes physical (tearing things apart, etc). Applying the technique of awareness on the pillow has made it possible to carry it on in daily life. I can see some of the more subtle undercurrents of the mind. In the end, if you try and force mindfulness, you will be un-mindfully mindful. From my experience daily mondfulness is started on the pillow where the stream of mindfulness is experienced, then one may more easily ease into that same stream when off the pillow. It is not facilitated through well versed tradition or technique. It's a natural capability of the mind to do so by presenting it with the right conditions through the basics of mindfulness meditation.

My advice is to "keep it simple stupid". The teachings for mindfulness are simple. Follow them simply unto your understanding and the mind will naturally enter the stream of mindfulness, which will help with day to day mindfulness.

Metta,

Zen
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mirco
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Re: Mindfulness in daily life: 'Best practices'

Postby mirco » Sat Aug 31, 2013 1:15 pm

"An important term for meditative absorption is samadhi. We often translate that as concentration, but that can suggest a certain stiffness. Perhaps unification is a better rendition, as samadhi means to bring together. Deep samadhi isn't at all stiff. It's a process of letting go of other things and coming to a unified experience." -

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Spiny Norman
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Re: Mindfulness in daily life: 'Best practices'

Postby Spiny Norman » Sat Aug 31, 2013 1:20 pm

"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream."
Dairy Lama

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Spiny Norman
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Re: Mindfulness in daily life: 'Best practices'

Postby Spiny Norman » Sat Aug 31, 2013 1:23 pm

"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream."
Dairy Lama

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khlawng
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Re: Mindfulness in daily life: 'Best practices'

Postby khlawng » Sat Aug 31, 2013 2:18 pm


PimonratC
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Re: Mindfulness in daily life: 'Best practices'

Postby PimonratC » Sat Sep 14, 2013 7:59 am

.


This is a great quote of mindfulness.








This book is describe this quote really great in practicing and can be proven.
And this quote was from this book. A very good one.



Here it is. :meditate:
http://01.learndhamma.com/pramote/books ... 0eBook.pdf




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