Methods for increasing mindfulness in daily life as a lay person

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philosopher
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Methods for increasing mindfulness in daily life as a lay person

Post by philosopher » Sun Jul 26, 2015 10:29 pm

Hello everyone,

I was wondering if any of you have found or developed methods to help assist you in practicing mindfulness in daily life. I've come up with many over the last few years. Some of these include:

-setting a timer or using a random timer to stop and take a few mindful breaths or meditate for a few minutes every hour or less throughout the day
-prior to beginning an activity that does not require a lot of mental exertion, such as cooking, decide on a point of focus - breath, feet, etc - and keep bringing the attention back to that point when the mind wanders. If the mind will not settle, listen to a dhamma talk instead.
-for tasks that involve mental activity, such as work on the computer, keep a pad of paper nearby and note the time of each distracting thought. For some reason I find it easier to let go of persistent, fantasy-like storylines when I physically note the time and even the content. I have a few that replay over and over so I just create a simple chart listing the themes and times.
-aversion or boredom seems to be a main cause of wandering thoughts, so I try to find a pleasant anchor in the immediate moment, such as a sensation of warmth, pleasant music, etc, that I can return to and enjoy rather than indulging in thoughts. When the mind is very calm and equanimity has been established this is unnecessary, but unfortunately for me at this stage my mind often needs to be reigned in by using an anchor of pleasant sense pleasure.
-increasing formal practice to 1.5 hours a day instead of just 30-45 mins per day. This helps calm the mind but then I become anxious about not moving forward in worldly life. I feel conflicted about this and for now have tried to reach the compromise of doing "enough" formal practice that lays a foundation for practicing mindfulness throughout the rest of the day. With no formal practice it seems that I don't have much of a chance to at least practicing mindfulness throughout the day using the above methods. With too much formal practice, on the other hand, I feel that the mind is calm and clear simply because there's so much sense-guarding and lack of sense-contact: the mind is simply not being stimulated. I feel this is not building the muscle of mindfulness but instead simply creating conditions conducive to a quiet, still mind.

Your experiences and ideas would be greatly appreciated!

:anjali:

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Modus.Ponens
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Re: Methods for increasing mindfulness in daily life as a lay person

Post by Modus.Ponens » Sun Jul 26, 2015 11:21 pm

Thank you! This is a great list!

I would add that you can observe the three characteristics when you walk, for more than 15 min, to work, or wherever you're going. It's a gradual practice but it works.

- Impermanence: 1- Feel the sensations moving in your feet as you walk; 2- After the movement of sensations is clear, feel the sensations change as you walk (this is deeper into impermanence than the previous step); 3- When this perception of change is clear, ask yourself: what sensations remain permanent in your feet? This question directly undermines "permanence".

- Unsatisfactoriness: 1- Feel the unsatisfactoriness of the sensations in your feet as you walk; 2- After this becomes clear, feel that every unsatisfying sensation is acompanied by movements of the mind, grabbing, or pushing the sensations; 3- Ask yourself: is there any movement of the mind that is satisfactory? This question directly undermines "satisfactoriness".

- Anatta: 1- Feel the sensations in the feet arising due to contact with the floor, coupled with mindful attention; 2- After this becomes clear, deepen this perception to all the sensations arising in the feet, due to attention and contact, until you realise this is a conditioned process; 3- When the perception that this is a conditioned process is clear, ask yourself: who is in charge of this conditioned process? This question directly undermines the "self".
"He turns his mind away from those phenomena and, having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.' " - Jhana Sutta

philosopher
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Re: Methods for increasing mindfulness in daily life as a lay person

Post by philosopher » Sat Aug 01, 2015 6:36 am

Modus.Ponens wrote:Thank you! This is a great list!

I would add that you can observe the three characteristics when you walk, for more than 15 min, to work, or wherever you're going. It's a gradual practice but it works.

- Impermanence: 1- Feel the sensations moving in your feet as you walk; 2- After the movement of sensations is clear, feel the sensations change as you walk (this is deeper into impermanence than the previous step); 3- When this perception of change is clear, ask yourself: what sensations remain permanent in your feet? This question directly undermines "permanence".

- Unsatisfactoriness: 1- Feel the unsatisfactoriness of the sensations in your feet as you walk; 2- After this becomes clear, feel that every unsatisfying sensation is acompanied by movements of the mind, grabbing, or pushing the sensations; 3- Ask yourself: is there any movement of the mind that is satisfactory? This question directly undermines "satisfactoriness".

- Anatta: 1- Feel the sensations in the feet arising due to contact with the floor, coupled with mindful attention; 2- After this becomes clear, deepen this perception to all the sensations arising in the feet, due to attention and contact, until you realise this is a conditioned process; 3- When the perception that this is a conditioned process is clear, ask yourself: who is in charge of this conditioned process? This question directly undermines the "self".
Thank you -- I'm glad you found the list helpful! And thank you for your comments; I enjoy walking meditation and will use these contemplations.

Recently I've been finding that physically noting (by writing down) storylines, emotions, feeling-tones (i.e. attitude toward whatever thought / emotion / experience is occurring) to be incredibly useful. The ability to detach from the activity of the mind is much easier for me when I do this for even a couple hours of the day. I use abbreviations for story lines. For instance, philosophical rumination (which I do a lot) is denoted by "PR" next to the time. That way the noting is quick, much like mental noting in formal practice.

:anjali:



I'd love to hear anyone else's experience if they've tried a similar method.

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Re: Methods for increasing mindfulness in daily life as a lay person

Post by Cormac Brown » Tue Feb 23, 2016 1:38 pm

The Metta Sutta recommends maintaining its mindfulness instructions in all postures, 24/7, except for when you're sleeping:
This is to be done by one skilled in aims
who wants to break through to the state of peace:
Be capable, upright, & straightforward,
easy to instruct, gentle, & not conceited,
content & easy to support,
with few duties, living lightly,
with peaceful faculties, masterful,
modest, & no greed for supporters.

Do not do the slightest thing
that the wise would later censure.

Think: Happy, at rest,
may all beings be happy at heart.
Whatever beings there may be,
weak or strong, without exception,
long, large,
middling, short,
subtle, blatant,
seen & unseen,
near & far,
born & seeking birth:
May all beings be happy at heart.

Let no one deceive another
or despise anyone anywhere,
or through anger or irritation
wish for another to suffer.

As a mother would risk her life
to protect her child, her only child,
even so should one cultivate a limitless heart
with regard to all beings.
With good will for the entire cosmos,
cultivate a limitless heart:
Above, below, & all around,
unobstructed, without enmity or hate.
Whether standing, walking,
sitting, or lying down,
as long as one is alert,
one should be resolved on this mindfulness.
This is called a sublime abiding
here & now.

Karaniya Metta Sutta
“I in the present who am a worthy one, rightly self-awakened, am a
teacher of action, a teacher of activity, a teacher of persistence. But the
worthless man Makkhali contradicts even me, (saying,) ‘There is no
action. There is no activity. There is no persistence.’ "
AN 3.138, trans. Ven. Thanissaro

Pinetree
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Re: Methods for increasing mindfulness in daily life as a lay person

Post by Pinetree » Tue Feb 23, 2016 4:13 pm

Recently I've been finding that physically noting (by writing down) storylines, emotions, feeling-tones (i.e. attitude toward whatever thought / emotion / experience is occurring) to be incredibly useful. The ability to detach from the activity of the mind is much easier for me when I do this for even a couple hours of the day. I use abbreviations for story lines. For instance, philosophical rumination (which I do a lot) is denoted by "PR" next to the time. That way the noting is quick, much like mental noting in formal practice.
That's interesting. How do you find that helpful ? Do you notice that the number of PR on your sheet decreases over time ?

philosopher
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Re: Methods for increasing mindfulness in daily life as a lay person

Post by philosopher » Fri Jul 08, 2016 2:50 am

Hi there,

Yes, I do find the number decreases. In fact, since I first started this thread, I'm at a point where I can usually count the number of thoughts I have within a period... usually about 5 per fifteen minutes or so when doing a menial activity like washing dishes. I also:

-note in a spreadsheet what percentage of the day I was mindful (this is of course using a definition of "mindful" that changes over time)
-average mindfulness on a scale of 1 to 10 (again, by my own subjective standards that change as my practice deepens. A 6 for me now is what a 9 or 10 was when I created this thread)

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The Thinker
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Re: Methods for increasing mindfulness in daily life as a lay person

Post by The Thinker » Fri Jul 08, 2016 8:16 pm

Oh no, not that dirty word average, the most irrelevant piece of mathematics ever created and used to lie in stats and real life. :toilet:
"Watch your heart, observe. Be the observer, be the knower, not the condition" Ajahn Sumedho volume5 - The Wheel Of Truth

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Re: Methods for increasing mindfulness in daily life as a lay person

Post by Dinsdale » Sat Jul 09, 2016 10:40 am

The Thinker wrote:Oh no, not that dirty word average, the most irrelevant piece of mathematics ever created and used to lie in stats and real life. :toilet:
I think you have avera-phobia. :tongue:

But seriously, I used to work as an information analyst and found average to be a crude but powerful tool.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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Re: Methods for increasing mindfulness in daily life as a lay person

Post by Dinsdale » Sat Jul 09, 2016 10:44 am

philosopher wrote:-setting a timer or using a random timer to stop and take a few mindful breaths or meditate for a few minutes every hour or less throughout the day
That's an interesting approach. But yes, the trick is to repeatedly re-establish mindfulness, bring yourself back to present experience. Ideally mindfulness becomes continuous.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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bodom
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Re: Methods for increasing mindfulness in daily life as a lay person

Post by bodom » Sat Jul 09, 2016 11:18 am

In my own practice i have found using a mantra like Buddho, the recollection of the Buddha and his qualities, during daily activities to be very, very helpful in maintaining mindfulness and for cutting off proliferation.

The Buddha specifically instructed his householder diciples in this practice and it is to be undertaken "while you are walking, while you are standing, while you are sitting, while you are lying down, while you are busy at work, while you are resting in your home crowded with children."
"One who is aroused to practice is one of conviction, not without conviction. One aroused to practice is one with persistence aroused, not lazy. One aroused to practice is one of established mindfulness, not muddled mindfulness. One aroused to practice is centered in concentration, not uncentered. One aroused to practice is discerning, not undiscerning.

"Established in these five qualities, you should further develop six qualities:

"There is the case where you recollect the Tathagata: 'Indeed, the Blessed One is worthy and rightly self-awakened, consummate in knowledge & conduct, well-gone, an expert with regard to the world, unexcelled as a trainer for those people fit to be tamed, the Teacher of divine & human beings, awakened [Buddho], blessed.' At any time when a disciple of the noble ones is recollecting the Tathagata, his mind is not overcome with passion, not overcome with aversion, not overcome with delusion. His mind heads straight, based on the Tathagata. And when the mind is headed straight, the disciple of the noble ones gains a sense of the goal, gains a sense of the Dhamma, gains joy connected with the Dhamma. In one who is joyful, rapture arises. In one who is rapturous, the body grows calm. One whose body is calmed experiences ease. In one at ease, the mind becomes concentrated.

"Mahanama, you should develop this recollection of the Buddha while you are walking, while you are standing, while you are sitting, while you are lying down, while you are busy at work, while you are resting in your home crowded with children.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

The following quotes are from Ajahn Anan on using the mantra Buddho, the recollection of the Buddha and is how I practice:
At this time, however, we can make an effort to train our hearts, trying to cultivate mindfulness whether standing, walking, sitting or lying down. Whatever our activity, be it drinking, thinking or talking, we have mindfulness, that is, clear recollection. Alternatively, we can establish the recitation of a mantra – ‘Buddho’, ‘Dhammo’ or ‘Sangho’ – to govern and guide our mind. Whether standing, walking, seated or reclining, we establish this internal recitation of ‘Buddho’ to govern the minds tendency towards distraction and diversity as it wanders about in the past and the future, continually proliferating.
Laypeople should firmly establish their lives in virtue and goodness, and try to cultivate mindfulness, samādhi, wisdom and samma-ajiva – Right Livelihood. Whatever our work or duties, we should endeavour to perform them with mindfulness using a mantra, Buddho – Dhammo – Sangho, to hold our attention. We have come together to practise Dhamma and so whatever bodily movement or wholesome activity we engage in, we can meditate at the same time by focusing upon the mantra ‘Buddho’ continuously. In this way we can say that we are performing both our external duties and the internal task of making the heart peaceful.
We must focus on the mantra ‘Buddho’, establishing continuous awareness, whether standing, walking, sitting, reclining, working, talking, drinking or thinking. Right now, while listening to the Dhamma, we can direct our minds to peace and not allow our attention to wander to other things.
It is said that to see the value in Buddho – the Knower, the Awakened One, the Enlightened One – we have to take up the internal recitation of the mantra ‘Buddho’ and make the heart peaceful. When the heart is tranquil and at peace, then it is awakened within. In what
way is it awakened within? The heart is awakened in that it is peaceful, and greed, hatred and delusion cannot enter. In this peaceful state the heart is completely satisfied and is no longer interested in external
sense objects. We can recite ‘Buddho’ continuously whatever our posture or activity, be it eating, coming or going, chanting or meditating. If we can keep this up, then our mindfulness will be firm and focused. Buddho and peace will become firmly and inseparably
rooted in the heart.
http://www.abhayagiri.org/books/seeking-buddho

:namaste:
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 no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

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The Thinker
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Re: Methods for increasing mindfulness in daily life as a lay person

Post by The Thinker » Sat Jul 09, 2016 12:06 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
The Thinker wrote:Oh no, not that dirty word average, the most irrelevant piece of mathematics ever created and used to lie in stats and real life. :toilet:
I think you have avera-phobia. :tongue:

But seriously, I used to work as an information analyst and found average to be a crude but powerful tool.


My problem is that average misses the variation ,the process and what was actually happening.

Hope you understand :smile:
"Watch your heart, observe. Be the observer, be the knower, not the condition" Ajahn Sumedho volume5 - The Wheel Of Truth

Dinsdale
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Re: Methods for increasing mindfulness in daily life as a lay person

Post by Dinsdale » Sat Jul 09, 2016 12:54 pm

bodom wrote:
We must focus on the mantra ‘Buddho’, establishing continuous awareness, whether standing, walking, sitting, reclining, working, talking, drinking or thinking. Right now, while listening to the Dhamma, we can direct our minds to peace and not allow our attention to wander to other things.
I've tried the "Buddho" mantra but it felt like it was taking me away from present experience, rather than closer to it. Like paying attention to the word, rather than to what was actually arising in my experience, detracting from the four frames of satipatthana practice.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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bodom
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Re: Methods for increasing mindfulness in daily life as a lay person

Post by bodom » Sat Jul 09, 2016 1:11 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
bodom wrote:
We must focus on the mantra ‘Buddho’, establishing continuous awareness, whether standing, walking, sitting, reclining, working, talking, drinking or thinking. Right now, while listening to the Dhamma, we can direct our minds to peace and not allow our attention to wander to other things.
I've tried the "Buddho" mantra but it felt like it was taking me away from present experience, rather than closer to it. Like paying attention to the word, rather than to what was actually arising in my experience, detracting from the four frames of satipatthana practice.
Yes, if your already able to be with the present experience without being carried away with mental proliferation then there's no need to use the mantra at the time. When I find my mind is calm and quiet I will drop it and simply be with what is.

My experience has been oposite of yours in that using Buddho helps me to connect fully with each experience and use it in much the same way as Mahasi practitioners use the noting method. The focus is always on the actual experience, the body, feelings, mind and dhammas. The mantra is more or less in the background of awareness reminding one to be present.

:namaste:
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 no struggling, no thinking,
the mind, still,
will see cause and effect
vanishing in the Void.
Attached to nothing, letting go:
Know that this is the way
to allay all stress.

- Upasika Kee Nanayan

Dinsdale
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Re: Methods for increasing mindfulness in daily life as a lay person

Post by Dinsdale » Sat Jul 09, 2016 3:39 pm

bodom wrote:My experience has been oposite of yours in that using Buddho helps me to connect fully with each experience and use it in much the same way as Mahasi practitioners use the noting method. The focus is always on the actual experience, the body, feelings, mind and dhammas. The mantra is more or less in the background of awareness reminding one to be present.
OK. To be fair I'd been using the noting method for quite a while before I tried the Buddho thing, so possibly it was just too different. I guess the main point is to find something that works for us, so it's useful to have these discussions and run through the options.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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_anicca_
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Re: Methods for increasing mindfulness in daily life as a lay person

Post by _anicca_ » Sun Jul 10, 2016 1:11 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
bodom wrote:My experience has been oposite of yours in that using Buddho helps me to connect fully with each experience and use it in much the same way as Mahasi practitioners use the noting method. The focus is always on the actual experience, the body, feelings, mind and dhammas. The mantra is more or less in the background of awareness reminding one to be present.
OK. To be fair I'd been using the noting method for quite a while before I tried the Buddho thing, so possibly it was just too different. I guess the main point is to find something that works for us, so it's useful to have these discussions and run through the options.
The most important thing is to find a method that works for you and then to develop it!
Ajahn Thanissaro teaches to focus on the breath in the center of the body and releasing tension in areas where stress manifests. I have found this to be very effective because it is dealing with the dhamma of the present moment - the breath.
Buddho is useful at times to block out thoughts and silence the mind.
In general, chanting and mantras are very effective for ridding ourselves of the chatter that we collect during our daily lives.
"A virtuous monk, Kotthita my friend, should attend in an appropriate way to the five clinging-aggregates as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a dissolution, an emptiness, not-self."

:buddha1:

http://vipassanameditation.asia

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