Observe what is Missing

Reference: The 12 Aspects of Mindfulness

Mindfulness provides the discipline for looking and contemplation.

You may do this exercise while sipping coffee in a café, or strolling along a river. You may even find a place where you can sit comfortably for a while without being disturbed. Then patiently observe the world go by.

If something is missing then recognize that it is missing. Do not imagine something in its place. If someone asks you a question and no answer comes up in your mind, then do not feel obliged to make up an answer. Continue to look around that area where something seems to be missing. Maybe something interesting will come up, maybe not.


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

  1. Observe as usual. Notice the environment and the people in it.

  2. Start applying the aspects of mindfulness that you have learned so far.

  3. Notice something that is puzzling, and about which full understanding is missing.

    Note: If nothing puzzling comes up then make a list of people you know and locations you are familiar with. Look at the responses that come up in the mind to items on this list. Something puzzling may come to notice.

  4. Do not feel obliged to accept the explanations given; instead focus on what is puzzling.

  5. Carefully consider the broad context of the scene, and the purpose of the activity.

  6. Notice all those things that do not seem to be consistent and coherent.

  7. Closely examine each one of them, and also your viewpoint with respect to them.

  8. Do not imagine reasons to fill the uncomfortable gap. Instead continue to observe in and around the area. Maybe something interesting will come up to make it clear, or maybe not.

  9. Notice questions you have for which “answers” are missing, or which do not make sense.

  10. Notice the impulse to come up with an answer. If there is no answer then acknowledge the fact. Do not make up an answer.

  11. Look at the question in a broader context and continue looking at the areas around it. Maybe the answer will present itself, maybe not.

  12. Expand your span of attention and let the perceptions pour in.

  13. Let the realizations present themselves to you without you making any effort.

  14. Use your own judgment as to when to end a session.


Develop this exercise to a point where you are doing it naturally even while interacting socially with others. Keep observing patiently following up on what is inconsistent and incoherent until things start to fall in place. Many things may come up naturally to be scrutinized. Simply observe and become aware of them without effort.


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