TRAINING IN MINDFULNESS

mindfulness

October 4, 2013: This essay has been superseded by THE 12 ASPECTS OF MINDFULNESS

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The following exercises are designed to help you understand the 12 STEPS OF MINDFULNESSUse the exercise  for the step that you do not quite understand.

Do the exercise until you understand what is required on that step of mindfulness.

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STEP 1: Look attentively at what is right there in front of you, without digging based on assumptions.

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It is easy to look at a physical object that is right there in front of you. However, it is easy to get distracted when looking at a mental object (mental picture, thought, desire, feeling or expectation). The trick is to look at the mental object that is uppermost in the mind without getting distracted.

The following exercise helps one develop the skill required for step 1 of mindfulness.

  1. Spot a physical object right there in front of you.

  2. Spot the mental object (mental picture, thought, desire, feeling or expectation) uppermost in your mind. NOTE: It is possible that there may not be a clear mental object there, but a doubt or confusion. Those are mental objects too.

  3. Repeat the sequence above until you understand what is required on STEP 1 OF MINDFULNESS.

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STEP 2: Observe things as they really are, not as they seem to be.

It is quite common to assume what is there. For example, one may be looking at the profile of a person, with only one ear visible; but may take for granted that the person has two ears. Or, one may assume a rope lying in the dark to be a snake. Similarly, one may trust a person just because he is wearing priestly robes. Or, believe without planning that one’s business will be a success from start.

The following exercise helps one develop the skill required for step 2 of mindfulness.

  1. Read an item randomly from the list at the end of this document.

  2. Notice if anything appeared in response to that item, and if so, notice if there is a desire, expectation, fear, or speculation influencing that perception.

  3. Repeat the sequence above until you understand what is required on STEP 2 OF MINDFULNESS.

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STEP 3: If something is missing do not imagine something else in its place.

When one is asked a question, usually the mind provides an answer. In the absence of an answer the person may feel obliged to make up an answer. Mindfulness requires that when there is no answer then one recognizes that.

The following exercise helps one develop the skill required for step 3 of mindfulness.

  1. Read an item randomly from the list at the end of this document.

  2. Notice if something has appeared in response to the item, such as, a mental picture, idea, emotion, feeling or desire.

  3. If yes then notice that response; if no, then notice the absence of a response.

  4. Repeat the sequence above until you understand what is required on STEP 3 OF MINDFULNESS.

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STEP 4: If something does not make sense then do not explain it away.

Often, when a person fails, he blames himself, or the circumstances. He seldom sits down immediately to examine what really happened. There are other situations in life that the person may simply assume a reason for, instead of looking at it closely.

The following exercise helps one develop the skill required for step 4 of mindfulness.

  1. Spot something that is inconsistent and does not make sense. 

  2. Do not try to explain it. Instead look at it closely to see what is really there.

  3. Clarify associated symbols and unknowns. Take nothing for granted. Keep looking more closely until you see what is really there.

  4. Repeat the sequence above until you understand what is required on STEP 4 OF MINDFULNESS.

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STEP 5: Use physical senses as well as mental sense to observe.

The mind is essentially a sense organ. It senses mental objects. The other five sense organs – eye, ear, nose, tongue, body – sense physical objects. The physical senses operate primarily at the level of physicality. The mental sense operates throughout the dimension of abstraction.

The following exercise helps one develop the skill required for step 5 of mindfulness.

  1. Look at a physical object, such as, a chair. Then look at the mental idea of different kind of chairs.

  2. Look at a physical tree. Then look at the feeling associated with life in that tree.

  3. Look at the physical house you live in. Then look at the effort associated with getting that house.

  4. Continue looking alternately at physical and mental objects until you understand what is required on STEP 5 OF MINDFULNESS.

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STEP 6: Let the mind un-stack itself.

Let the mind bring up responses to an item until there are none. There should be no effort to recall. Let the responses come up in their natural order without interference. There should be no digging into the memory. This is called letting the mind unwind or un-stack itself naturally.

The following exercise helps one develop the skill required for step 6 of mindfulness.

  1. Consider the question, “HOW HAVE I BEEN RIGHT IN MY LIFE?” 

  2. Look at the response that appears in the mind naturally.

  3. Consider the above question once again, and look at the response that now appears. If it is the same response then look at it more closely.

  4. Repeat the above sequence to let the mind un-stack itself naturally on the subject of “rightness” until there are no more response.

  5. Review the un-stacking above to understand what is required on STEP 6 OF MINDFULNESS.

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STEP 7: Experience fully what is there.

An important aspect of mindfulness is to fully experience the feelings, emotions, and efforts that are there. There should be no resistance when experiencing. But before you do that, make sure that your environment is safe and free of disturbance, and your mind is free of stimulants.  If the mind is racing, then simply experience that racing phenomenon without contributing to it.

The following exercise helps one develop the skill required for step 7 of mindfulness.

  1. Read an item randomly from the list at the end of this document.

  2. If an emotional response comes up then dive into it and experience it fully. See if you are able to experience without holding anything back.

  3. Repeat the sequence above until you understand what is required on STEP 7 OF MINDFULNESS.

  4. Alternately, find something that you have been avoiding to look at. Observe the feelings or emotions that appear when you try to face it. Experience those emotions without resisting or suppressing them.

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STEP 8: Do not suppress anything.

Most difficulties in life are caused by the suppression of perceptions, imagination, memories, etc. Do not pre-judge and avoid something because you consider it to be painful. Let the mind bring up thoughts, and exhaust itself of past suppression. If something shameful appears then you observe and experience the shame. If something threatening appears then you observe and experience the threat. By not suppressing you establish complete integrity within yourself.

The following exercise helps one develop the skill required for step 8 of mindfulness.

  1. Simply observe your surroundings without suppressing anything that the mind is presenting. Do not interfere with the mind in any manner.

  2. You may close your eyes and bring to attention some event that had an effect on you. Let it play itself out with emotions and all without you suppressing anything.

  3. Repeat the above as necessary until you understand what is required on STEP 8 OF MINDFULNESS.

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STEP 9: Associate data freely.

Put attention on something interesting, and let the mind associate data freely on its own. You simply observe the mental activity without interfering with it.

The following exercise helps one develop the skill required for step 9 of mindfulness.

  1. Simply observe your environment with your eyes open. Once you can comfortably notice what is there close your eyes.

  2. Observe your breathing and let its awareness ground you in the present reality.

  3. Observe what is there in the mind. Start watching it closely. Let the mind move from one thought to another freely. Do not interfere with the mental activity.

  4. Continue with the above until you understand what is required on STEP 9 OF MINDFULNESS.

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STEP 10: Do not get hung up on name and form.

Simply be aware that name and form may act as built-in judgment of what is there. Your task is to see things as they are. There should be no effort to be judgmental by deliberately supplying name and form to what is there.

The following exercise helps one develop the skill required for step 10 of mindfulness.

  1. Simply observe physical objects with your eyes open. Recognize them by their name and form. Continue looking at them until names and forms don’t matter.

  2. Close your eyes and observe mental objects as they appear. Recognize them by their name and form (idea, feeling, emotion, desire, expectation, speculation, etc.) Continue looking at them until names and forms don’t matter.

  3. Repeat the above as necessary until you understand what is required on STEP 8 OF MINDFULNESS.

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STEP 11: Contemplate thoughtfully.

Let non-judgmental observation provide accurate input. Let free association provide thoughtful contemplation.

The following exercise helps one develop the skill required for step 11 of mindfulness. 

  1. Simply observe the physical and mental objects that are there.

  2. Make no effort to judge them. Make no effort to interrupt the dynamic associations that are taking place among them.

  3. Continue with the above until you understand what is required on STEP 11 OF MINDFULNESS.

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STEP 12: Let it all be effortless.

In this exercise practice all aspects of mindfulness that you have learned so far until you are not even thinking of them. Any effort would come into play only when any of these aspects are violated.

  1. Find a place where you can sit comfortably and be there for a while without being disturbed or distracted.

  2. Simply observe with your eyes open. If you find your mind adding more to what is plainly visible, simply notice that fact and continue.

  3. Once you can comfortably notice what is there, and can differentiate it from what your mind tends to add to it, you may close your eyes.

  4. If you just see blackness, then observe that blackness. If you see a play of light and darkness, then observe that play of light and darkness.

  5. Observe the various sound and smells as they offer themselves to you. Do not strain to perceive them.

  6. Observe what your senses present to you, such as, the temperature in the room, the pull of gravity, or the taste in your mouth. Do not look for anything in particular. Just be there comfortably experiencing what is there.

  7. The mind may present “pictures” of the current and past events, some flattering and some not so flattering. Simply experience them without thinking. The scene may shift around continually.

  8. The mind may present emotions, such as, embarrassment, guilt, anxiety, anger, fear, grief, and even apathy. Simply experience whatever comes up without trying to judge it, or justify it.

  9. The mind may present various sensations, twitches in muscles, pain, effort to do, or not do something, etc. Do not avoid, resist or suppress these back. Just experience them fully. They will all clear out eventually.

  10. There may be tendency to squirm, move or change position. If the discomfort lasts, readjust your body to a more comfortable position, while keeping your attention on experiencing the effort.

  11. If you find yourself getting involved in thoughts, or mentally doing something else, then simply recognize this fact, and continue. Do not suppress anything. Do not add anything.

  12. Let these feelings, emotions and sensations play themselves out. Do not speculate on reasons and possibilities. As you persevere, the uncomfortable feelings and sensations will clear out.

  13. Continue until this exercise becomes effortless for you. This may take several sessions. Try not to end this exercise when some unpleasant emotion or effort is persisting. It is understood that this may not always be possible.

 

LIST: Look at an instance:

  1. When you were happy.
  2. When you climbed a tree.
  3. When you ate something good.
  4. When you received a present.
  5. When you enjoyed a laugh.
  6. When you helped somebody.
  7. When you threw a ball.
  8. When something important happened to you.
  9. When you played a game.
  10. When you jumped down from a tree.
  11. When you won a contest.
  12. When you laughed loudly.
  13. When you met someone you liked.
  14. When you flew on a plane.
  15. When you were at a beautiful place.
  16. When you jumped into a pool.
  17. When you enjoyed a beautiful morning.
  18. When you went for a walk.
  19. When somebody teased you.
  20. When you sat in a coffee shop.
  21. When you danced with joy.
  22. When you raced with someone.
  23. When you completed something important.
  24. When you were pleasantly surprised.
  25. When you met somebody after a long time.
  26. When you were caught in a rain.
  27. When you heard a thunder.
  28. When someone smiled at you.
  29. When you played with a pet.
  30. When you held someone’s hand.
  31. When someone picked you up.
  32. When you were spinning around.
  33. When you read a good book.
  34. When you felt breeze on your face.
  35. When you saw a beautiful flower.
  36. When you smelled a rose.
  37. When somebody called you.
  38. When you were in a play.
  39. When you sang aloud.
  40. When you watched a movie.
  41. When your team won.
  42. When you rode with friends.
  43. When you visited a beautiful garden.
  44. When you played in water.
  45. When the weather was stormy.
  46. When somebody gave you a hug.
  47. When you liked somebody.
  48. When you slid down a slide.
  49. When you ran toward someone you liked.
  50. When you enjoyed beautiful weather.

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