Exercise: Being There


August 18, 2014
This issue is now obsolete. For latest reference please see: Mindfulness 12: Let it be effortless.
This exercise is about practicing all the 12 aspects of mindfulness together.



When there is an immediate response in the mind to looking, there is satisfaction and one moves on. But, when there is no response, anxiety may take over, and one may find it difficult to move on. The immediate reaction is to start searching for an explanation.

A better thing to do is to stop searching and just keep some attention in the area of interest while going about one’s daily routine. As one waits patiently without searching, figuring, digging, expecting, etc., the mental fog may ultimately start to lift from that area and bring to view long suppressed material followed by realizations. Sometimes things may take days to sort themselves out before the realization appears.

Relief comes from looking patiently and not from searching anxiously and trying to be in control. Actually, hectic digging into the mind for explanations has occasionally driven people toward madness.

It is completely safe to look at an area of the mind for as long as one wants, provided one does not start searching for explanations.

Here are some observations about the process of looking at mind naturally without trying to control it.

(1) When a person looks at an area of the mind, the mind starts to un-stack itself. As the top layer comes fully into awareness it dissolves giving way to the next layer. And so it continues.

(2) These layers are connected by significance in a certain order. A person is much less likely to be overwhelmed if these layers are brought into awareness and dissolved in the order they are presented by the mind.

(3) This natural process of un-stacking is interrupted when one anxiously starts to ask questions and search for explanations.

(4) One exposes oneself to overwhelm only when one interferes with the way the mind wants to un-stack itself.

A person who is routinely digging into his mind searching for explanations is definitely exposing himself to harm. He will do himself a big favor by learning to look patiently in and around the area of interest and letting the mind un-stack itself, rather than straining to figure things out.

The exercise to help rapidly un-stack the mind is provided here.


  1. Find a place where you can sit comfortably and be there for a while without being disturbed or distracted. Make sure you have had enough to eat and rest. You do not want your body to be a distraction.

  2. Sit in a comfortable position with your back straight and upright.  If you are sitting in a chair, keep feet flat on the floor, and hands in the lap.

  3. Become aware of breathing and stay aware of it without interfering with it throughout this exercise. Awareness of breathing helps you stay grounded in reality.

  4. Become aware of the mind and stay aware of it without interfering with it throughout this exercise. Awareness of mind as a sense organ that is viewing mental objects helps you stay objective.

  5. Do not move or do anything. Simply observe the physical objects, such as, chair, table, wall, etc., and the mental objects, such as, ideas, thoughts, feelings, emotions, etc. Let your eyes be open, half-closed, or closed naturally and not be controlled.

  6. Do not add anything to this exercise. 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. And so on.

  7. Let your attention roam freely. Observe what your senses present to you. Let various perceptions of sound, smells, taste, touch, temperature, gravity, etc. come to you. Do not strain to perceive them. Do not look for anything in particular.

  8. Do not resist anything. Let reactions, such as, twitches in muscles, minor pains and aches, sleepiness, etc., come and go. Experience the body as a whole without interfering with it. If some discomfort lasts, readjust the body to a more comfortable position, while experiencing the effort.

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

  10. The mind may present emotions, such as, embarrassment, guilt, anxiety, anger, fear, grief, and even apathy. Simply experience them thoroughly without trying to judge or justify them.

  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. Try ending this exercise at a point when some persistent thought, emotion or effort has just left, though this may not always be possible.


One can do this exercise up to a couple of hours at a stretch, but how long you do it is up to you. Do this exercise as often as practical until it becomes a second nature to you.


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  • vinaire  On July 1, 2014 at 2:16 PM

    Being there boils down to observing without interfering with the mind and the body.

    Mind and body seem to be wound up like a spring in an old-fashioned toy. When that spring starts to unwind it animates the toy.

    Being there is like watching the animation without interfering with the spring or the toy. When the spring unwinds completely the toy becomes still.


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