Mindfulness as non-judgmental awareness revisited

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binocular
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Mindfulness as non-judgmental awareness revisited

Post by binocular » Fri Jul 14, 2017 4:59 pm

Greetings,


So I was looking for something, and came across this:
You also can sharpen your self-awareness by practicing mindfulness. “ring attention to the present moment and observe what is happening without judging it,” said Lidia Zylowska, M.D., a board-certified psychiatrist who specializes in adult ADHD and penned the book The Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD.

https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/ ... pulsivity/


How does one "observe what is happening without judging it"?
What are these promoters of this kind of mindfulness talking about??
I have read some of their work, but I have no idea what they are talking about. I really want to understand, as this has been an ongoing concern for me.

As far as I can see, "to observe without judging" requires that one puts an extra thick layer of prejudice over one's experience/observation in the present moment, so that it then seems like one isn't judging and is being neutral.

(And talking to these people has been useless so far. They don't engage in any actual discussion.)

What is that, really, "observe what is happening without judging it"?
Could anyone explain, please?


Thanks.

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Re: Mindfulness as non-judgmental awareness revisited

Post by Caodemarte » Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:17 pm

One could try being aware of being engaged or judging or whatever or aware of not being engaged or not judging or whatever are that moment. Trying to be neutral or not judge, etc. is not bring mindful.

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Re: Mindfulness as non-judgmental awareness revisited

Post by Pseudobabble » Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:44 pm

binocular wrote: How does one "observe what is happening without judging it"?
It's not actually possible.

But Westerners are so used to thinking, and judging, and thinking about what they thought, and then making judgements on the judgements they made about what they thought, that saying, 'stop judging', can be useful, to help slow down their whizzing minds.
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'" - Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta


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Re: Mindfulness as non-judgmental awareness revisited

Post by daverupa » Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:55 pm

binocular wrote:How does one "observe what is happening without judging it"?
What are these promoters of this kind of mindfulness talking about??
I have read some of their work, but I have no idea what they are talking about.
In these clinical contexts, mindfulness means
paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. This kind of attention nurtures greater awareness, clarity, and acceptance of present-moment reality. It wakes us up to the fact that our lives unfold only in moments. If we are not fully present for many of those moments, we may not only miss what is most valuable in our lives but also fail to realize the richness and the depth of our possibilities for growth and transformation.
This is from Kabat-Zinn's Wherever you go, there you are (1994). The basic shape of this sort of practice can be had by researching Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) & Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).

If I get angry, I can judge that anger as "my fault" or "their fault", etc. Or, without that sort of judgment, I can note the anger in the present moment, realize it doesn't require immediate action, and proceed with greater awareness, a greater ability to align my actions with my values, etc.

Have a look at Handbook of Mindfulness: Theory, Research, and Practice by Drs. Kirk Warren Brown, J. David Creswell, & Richard M. Ryan (eds.; 2015) for the latest research on these approaches.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: Mindfulness as non-judgmental awareness revisited

Post by binocular » Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:56 pm

Pseudobabble wrote:But Westerners are so used to thinking, and judging, and thinking about what they thought, and then making judgements on the judgements they made about what they thought, that saying, 'stop judging', can be useful, to help slow down their whizzing minds.
I can't imagine that. I mean, when I read what those authors say who consider mindfulness to be "nonjudgmental awareness", I feel like either I am from another planet, or they are. It's entirely foreign to me and has been for as long as I can remember; it doesn't even have anything to do with my involvement with Buddhism. This being foreign is rather scary.

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Re: Mindfulness as non-judgmental awareness revisited

Post by Pseudobabble » Fri Jul 14, 2017 6:00 pm

daverupa wrote: If I get angry, I can judge that anger as "my fault" or "their fault", etc. Or, without that sort of judgment, I can note the anger in the present moment, realize it doesn't require immediate action, and proceed with greater awareness, a greater ability to align my actions with my values, etc.
So it's about avoiding what we might call gross and habitual judgement. There's still judgement there - in order to distinguish a mental state from any other mental state, one makes a judgement: that it is that mental state, and not any other.

I guess I am saying that knowledge of distinction implies judgement.
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'" - Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta


'Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.' - Genesis 3:19

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Re: Mindfulness as non-judgmental awareness revisited

Post by Pseudobabble » Fri Jul 14, 2017 6:02 pm

binocular wrote: I can't imagine that. I mean, when I read what those authors say who consider mindfulness to be "nonjudgmental awareness", I feel like either I am from another planet, or they are. It's entirely foreign to me and has been for as long as I can remember; it doesn't even have anything to do with my involvement with Buddhism. This being foreign is rather scary.
Have you read Food for Awakening, by Thanissaro? I thought it was a good article on the topic. I take 'bare attention' to be the same thing as 'non-judgemental awareness'.
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'" - Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta


'Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.' - Genesis 3:19

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Re: Mindfulness as non-judgmental awareness revisited

Post by binocular » Fri Jul 14, 2017 6:10 pm

daverupa wrote:If I get angry, I can judge that anger as "my fault" or "their fault", etc.
But I don't think that way about getting angry to begin with. I can't imagine what it would be like or what it takes to think "You made me angry" nor "I'm to blame for getting angry."
When I feel anger, this question occurs to me, "Is Social Darwinism really as good as life ever gets?"
Have a look at Handbook of Mindfulness: Theory, Research, and Practice by Drs. Kirk Warren Brown, J. David Creswell, & Richard M. Ryan (eds.; 2015) for the latest research on these approaches.
Thanks for the reference. My library here doesn't have it, so I'll have to order via interlibrary loan.

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Re: Mindfulness as non-judgmental awareness revisited

Post by binocular » Fri Jul 14, 2017 6:14 pm

Pseudobabble wrote:Have you read Food for Awakening, by Thanissaro? I thought it was a good article on the topic. I take 'bare attention' to be the same thing as 'non-judgemental awareness'.
Yes, I'm familiar with Ven. Thanissaro's approach; also see Mindfulness Defined. Which is all the more why I can't relate to those modern Western clinical and popular approaches to mindfulness.

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Re: Mindfulness as non-judgmental awareness revisited

Post by Pseudobabble » Fri Jul 14, 2017 6:46 pm

binocular wrote:I can't relate to those modern Western clinical and popular approaches to mindfulness.
I also find it hard to get along with them. They are inoffensive to me, but seem rather anodyne, without flavour.
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'" - Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta


'Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.' - Genesis 3:19

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Re: Mindfulness as non-judgmental awareness revisited

Post by binocular » Fri Jul 14, 2017 6:53 pm

Pseudobabble wrote:They are inoffensive to me, but seem rather anodyne, without flavour.
Then you're fortunate. I don't find them so harmless, and I'm almost horrified about the possibility of having to deal with them again.

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Re: Mindfulness as non-judgmental awareness revisited

Post by bodom » Fri Jul 14, 2017 8:01 pm

I take it be a part of training in restraining the senses where the Buddha tells us to see, hear, taste, touch, smell, think without giving rise to greed or hatred to objects being experienced. If one is able to do that then in a sense that is non judgmental awareness. Even in the beginning stages of satipatthanna practice we are told to subdue greed and distress with reference to the world. Not liking this or hating that. I would say it falls more into the category of ardency and right effort than mindfulness per se. Mindfulness being the act of remembering to stay ardent.

To use an analogy from my childhood:

I hated to do the dishes after dinner. The whole while I'm washing the dishes I would be thinking to myself about how much it sucked and that I wished I could be doing anything else and rushing to get it done complaining in my head the whole while adding unnecessary suffering. If I had done them mindfully and thoroughly without judgement I could have saved myself alot of stress. I think this analogy could be applied to a lot of the things we encounter during our daily life that we judge and have aversion towards.
....At first, when we started out, we weren’t able to exercise any real restraint over the eyes and ears, but once the mind becomes firmly centered, then the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and body are automatically brought under control. If there’s no mindfulness and concentration, you can’t keep your eyes under control, because the mind will want to use them to look and to see, it will want to use the ears to listen to all kinds of things. So instead of exercising restraint outside, at the senses, we exercise it inside, right at the mind, making the mind firmly centered and neutral at all times. Regardless of whether you’re talking or whatever, the mind’s focus stays in place. Once you can do this, you’ll regard the objects of the senses as meaningless. You won’t have to take issue with things, thinking, “This is good, I like it. This is bad, I don’t like it. This is pretty; that’s ugly.” The same holds true with the sounds you hear. You won’t take issue with them. You focus instead on the neutral, uninvolved centeredness of the mind. This is the basic foundation for neutrality.

When you can do this, everything becomes neutral. When the eye sees a form, it’s neutral. When the ear hears a sound, it’s neutral—the mind is neutral, the sound is neutral, everything is all neutral—because we’ve closed five of the six sense doors and then settled ourselves in neutrality right at the mind. This takes care of everything. Whatever the eye may see, the ear may hear, the nose may smell, the tongue may taste, or the body may touch, the mind doesn’t take issue with anything at all. It stays centered, neutral, and impartial. Take just this much and give it a try.

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Re: Mindfulness as non-judgmental awareness revisited

Post by befriend » Fri Jul 14, 2017 10:13 pm

Non judgmentaly probably means temporarily putting aside the labels good bad so there is no aversion or craving. In my experience with non reactivity or a form of equanimity is seeing that whatever arises passes you keep seeing this theme as you watch your bodily sensation it arises it's there and it passes your awareness becomes so lucid that the mind realizes unpleasant sensations are nothing to warrant a reaction nor are pleasant sensations and equanimity arises in the mind. I don't know if this is what jon Kabbat Zin is referring to or not.
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Re: Mindfulness as non-judgmental awareness revisited

Post by paul » Sat Jul 15, 2017 6:35 am

In mindfulness both purposeful equanimity and exertion are necessary:
"...even though mindful equanimity is, in some cases enough to uproot causes of stress, it's not enough in all."

"So he exerts a fabrication against the cause of stress for which dispassion comes from the fabrication of exertion, and develops equanimity with regard to the cause of stress for which dispassion comes from the development of equanimity."---MN 101

"Notice that the Buddha offers no specific guidelines for when equanimity will work in giving rise to dispassion and when the more proactive approach of "exerting a fabrication" is needed. This means that you have to discover from personal experience what works in a particular case and to employ the appropriate corrective."

"As for equanimity, even though the passage from MN 101 contrasts it with the fabrication of exertion, we have to remember that it’s a mental feeling (SN 36:31), one of the five aggregates (khandha), and so it’s a fabricated phenomenon. When used on the path, it differs from the fabrication of exertion only in that it requires much less effort. In fact, one of the important insights leading to release is that even subtle forms of equanimity are no less fabricated than mental states requiring much more energy. This point is borne out by the fact that when equanimity is employed instead of the fabrication of exertion, it’s used with a particular purpose in mind: to abandon unskillful qualities. This means that it has an underlying agenda, the agenda of right effort, and is not totally free from preference."

---"Right Mindfulness", Thanissaro Bikkhu.


Employing equanimity exclusively without exertion will result in imbalance:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkX4nAUJX7w

MN 19 gives analogies of how both purposeful equanimity and the exertion of fabrication are used in mindfulness according to the cycles of the mind:
Exertion of fabrication:
"Just as in the last month of the Rains, in the autumn season when the crops are ripening, a cowherd would look after his cows: He would tap & poke & check & curb them with a stick on this side & that. Why is that? Because he foresees flogging or imprisonment or a fine or public censure arising from that [if he let his cows wander into the crops]. In the same way I foresaw in unskillful qualities drawbacks, degradation, & defilement, and I foresaw in skillful qualities rewards related to renunciation & promoting cleansing.

Purposeful equanimity:
"Just as in the last month of the hot season, when all the crops have been gathered into the village, a cowherd would look after his cows: While resting under the shade of a tree or out in the open, he simply keeps himself mindful of 'those cows.' In the same way, I simply kept myself mindful of 'those mental qualities.'
Last edited by paul on Sat Jul 15, 2017 10:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Mindfulness as non-judgmental awareness revisited

Post by Spiny Norman » Sat Jul 15, 2017 8:19 am

binocular wrote:
You also can sharpen your self-awareness by practicing mindfulness. “ring attention to the present moment and observe what is happening without judging it,” said Lidia Zylowska, M.D., a board-certified psychiatrist who specializes in adult ADHD and penned the book The Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD.
https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/ ... pulsivity/


I assume this is referring to a non-judgemental attitude, one of accepting present experience the way it is, thereby seeing more clearly what it is.

The Satipatthana Sutta describes something similar, the attitude of "putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world", putting aside the wanting and not wanting.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Though of course this attitude doesn't mean an absence of discernment.
Last edited by Spiny Norman on Sat Jul 15, 2017 8:53 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Mindfulness as non-judgmental awareness revisited

Post by retrofuturist » Sat Jul 15, 2017 8:49 am

Greetings Binocular,
binocular wrote:What is that, really, "observe what is happening without judging it"?
Could anyone explain, please?
It's not a particular deep instruction IMO, but I guess it's better than nothing, and it does have the potential to be applied by people who are not well versed in the Buddha's teachings (as alluded to by daverupa, above).

Dhamma practitioners on the other hand should be very careful here in what they take "judging" to mean, because the Buddha praised the quality of "discernment" (as mentioned by spiny, above)... and you wouldn't want to sacrifice the wholesome, skilful quality of "discernment", through efforts to be non-judgemental.

Moreso than not "judging", the true challenge is to not be drawn into present things as per this instruction from the Blessed One...
MN 131 wrote:"And how, monks, is one not drawn into present things? Herein, monks, an instructed Noble disciple who takes into account the Noble Ones, skilled in the Dhamma of the Noble Ones, trained in the Dhamma of the Noble Ones, taking into account the good men, skilled in the Dhamma of the good men, trained in the Dhamma of the good men, does not look upon form as self, or self as possessed of form, or form as in self, or self as in form. He does not look upon feeling as self... He does not look upon perception as self... He does not look upon formations as self... He does not look upon consciousness as self, or self as possessed of consciousness, or consciousness as in self, or self as in consciousness. That is how, monks, one is not drawn into present things.
The greatest mindfulness is one that does not simply see 'things' (i.e. dhammas), but sees how they arise as sankhata-dhammas (fabricated things), via the process of paticcasamuppada. Seeing their fabricated nature helps to bring dispassion with regards to them, and knowledge of the process of their arising, means that paticcasamuppada can be applied in its reverse order, to prevent future arising.

Metta,
Paul. :)
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Re: Mindfulness as non-judgmental awareness revisited

Post by ToVincent » Sun Jul 16, 2017 12:15 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Dhamma practitioners on the other hand should be very careful here in what they take "judging" to mean, because the Buddha praised the quality of "discernment" (as mentioned by spiny, above)... and you wouldn't want to sacrifice the wholesome, skilful quality of "discernment", through efforts to be non-judgemental.
:goodpost: :clap:
Yes! retrofuturist (and Spiny Norman) - you could not say it better. Good to hear that. Much mudita in my citta and in my hṛd.

It's all about discernment, and the pīti born of the seclusion from that discernment.

People often speak about "rapture". However, the pseudo "rapture" that some might feel while meditating, is not pīti. And pīti is not "rapture".

Pīti is the contentment of being secluded within oneself. Not of getting "raptured" on some vitiated (yet good - sometimes overpowering) feeling from the external.

Pīti can be summarized as:
propitiate > gladden > be pleased or satisfied with (oneself) from discriminating/discerning> delight.
One should not be carried away by an overwhelming adscititious emotion; but instead by a ravishing delight of being "in charge", viz. mindful - from discernment.

प्रीति prīti (Sk.prīti & Vedic prīta pp.of √ प्री prī)
- any pleasurable sensation , pleasure , joy , gladness , satisfaction , "joy at having done anything" (GṛŚrS.)

Pīti is the satisfaction of having discriminated the external & the internal. It is about the pleasure of being at peace with oneself, mindfully - namely as being aware of not letting the "external" interfere; and letting the internal in (see the simile of the City below).
Then, as retrofuturist implied; watch the "internal" process of a dhamma (phenomena) unfold in front of our "eyes"; the paṭiccasamuppāda way.
That is to say: from saṅkhāra nidāna = body (kāya/breath/and the all subsequent shebang of organs) > feeling > perception of feeling > thought & mental concretism > consciousness nidāna.) - In other words, Ānāpānasati (which, by the way, was Buddha's dwelling during the rains).

---

Also, Buddhism is not about getting "high". Buddhism is about experiencing subtler & subtler feelings (MN 59) from within. Not about gross ones from the outside. You can find the latter in drugs (extrinsic) - or from what the external feeds you with.
In other words, nothing can be trusted, if it does not come from your own atta. Even if this atta is not to be trusted later on (atta being transitory, so to speak - an inevitable and illusory means to an end, brought by ignorance).

From the delight of pīti comes the pleasantness of the equanimous sukkha. Etc., etc.
Subtler & subtler.

---

Pañña is the gist of meditation.

On pañña (discernment/wisdom): https://justpaste.it/170ab
and
On viveka (discrimination / separation / seclusion): https://justpaste.it/17880

Also, the simile of the Vipers ( SN 35.238), and the simile of the City (SN 35.245) are pretty good examples of this discrimination between the internal and the external).
And pretty straightforward about not letting everything in (un-judgmentally) - Once and for all. :rules:


Metta.

P.S.

By the way, the meaning of Asaṃvuta in AN 4.14, for instance (see also AN 4.13) is the following:

Asaṃvuta
- unrestrained (as in leaving the faculties (indriya) unrestrained).
Saṃvuta:[pp.of saṃvarati]
- restrained; shut; covered.
saṃvarati:[saṃ-√ vṛ]

√ वृ vṛ
- to ward off ,keep back , prevent , hinder , restrain (RV. AV.)
- obstruct (RV.)
- to close (a door) (AitBr.)
And
√ वृ vṛ
- to choose , select , choose for one's self (RV. Br. MBh.)
- to like better than (RV. AitBr. MBh.)

How much more judgmental could all that be?
Last edited by ToVincent on Sun Jul 16, 2017 8:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.
In this world with its ..., Māras, ... in this population with its ascetics.... (AN 5.30).
------
We are all possessed - more or less.
------
And what, bhikkhu, is inward rottenness? Here someone is immoral, one of evil character, of impure and suspect behaviour, secretive in his acts, no ascetic though claiming to be one, not a celibate though claiming to be one, inwardly rotten, corrupt, depraved. This is called inward rottenness.”
SN 35.241
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Re: Mindfulness as non-judgmental awareness revisited

Post by binocular » Sun Jul 16, 2017 6:36 pm

Thank you all for your replies!
Spiny Norman wrote:Though of course this attitude doesn't mean an absence of discernment.
It seems to me that for the popular mindfulness folks, it means precisely that, when they describe "being mindful" as something neutral.

(I'm having a kind of weight of nobility crisis in regard to the popular mindfulness folks and what they teach.)

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Re: Mindfulness as non-judgmental awareness revisited

Post by daverupa » Sun Jul 16, 2017 8:22 pm

binocular wrote:I can't relate to those modern Western clinical and popular approaches to mindfulness...

I don't find them so harmless, and I'm almost horrified about the possibility of having to deal with them again...

(I'm having a kind of weight of nobility crisis in regard to the popular mindfulness folks and what they teach.)
Care to expand?
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: Mindfulness as non-judgmental awareness revisited

Post by Pseudobabble » Mon Jul 17, 2017 12:15 pm

paul wrote:...
ToVincent wrote:...
Two extremely useful posts (for me, can't speak for our friend binocular). Many thanks.
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.'" - Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta


'Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.' - Genesis 3:19

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