Exercises: Mindfulness (Set 1)

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Reference: Mindfulness Approach

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Mindfulness is seeing things as they are. It provides the discipline for looking and contemplation

The following exercises help you see things as they are. You may do them 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, and then patiently observe the world go by.

Desires make one want certain outcomes. This leads to speculations that have no basis other than one’s expectations. But, it is only when you know what is there can you predict future in a reasonable and consistent manner.

Familiarity makes one assume certain things to be there. The visualization is already there in the mind, and it gets superimposed over what is there. However familiar something may be it is never permanent and it may not actually be there.

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. Accept that you do not have an answer..

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EXERCISE # 1: Desires and Expectations

PURPOSE:  To discern the influence of desires and expectations on the perception of what is there.

PREREQUISITE:  Review Exercises: Discerning the Environment.

STEPS:

  1. In this exercise you simply become aware of desires and expectations that may influence observation.

  2. Notice the environment and the people in a causal, easygoing manner.

  3. Notice if there is a desire and expectation accompanying your observation.

    For example, you may see a person in priestly robes and have a desire to trust him implicitly. This is one expects from a man of God.

  4. Simply become aware of that desire, and move on. Do not interfere with the desire present. Do not avoid, resist, suppress, or deny any other thoughts or feelings arising in the mind.

  5. If there are extraneous thoughts arising in your mind, notice if they is an underlying desire. Simply become aware of what is there and move on.

  6. If there is uncontrolled thinking going on in your mind, notice if there is an effort to predict something. Simply become aware of what is there and move on.

  7. If there are unanswered questions swirling around, notice if there are expectations attached to them. Simply become aware of what is there and move on.

  8. If a question is really important, and it needs to be resolved, then note it down to be researched later. Do not avoid, resist, suppress, or deny any question. Simply become aware of what is there and move on.

  9. Expand your span of attention to as wide a context as possible, and let the physical and mental perceptions pour in, while doing this exercise.

  10. This exercise is done for 20 minute, which is the normal duration of a session. Several sessions may be given during a day, and over the course of days, until progress is observed.

  11. This exercise is completed when it becomes effortless.

  12. When this exercise is completed you may proceed to the next exercise.

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EXERCISE # 2: Assumptions

PURPOSE:  To discern the influence of assumptions on the perception of what is there.

PREREQUISITE:  Exercise # 1 above.

STEPS:

  1. In this exercise you simply become aware of assumptions that may influence observation.

  2. Notice the environment and the people in a causal, easygoing manner.

  3. As you observe, see if the actual perceptions are different from how they should be according to the ideas in your mind.

    For example, you may see only the profile of a stranger, and see only one ear. But your mind tells you that he has two ears, because “all men have two ears.” He may have two ears but you don’t see them. The chances are slim but this stranger may have only one ear. Those, who are aware of their assumptions, are mindful.

  4. Simply become aware of the assumptions, and move on. Do not interfere with the assumptions present. Do not avoid, resist, suppress, or deny any other thoughts or feelings arising in the mind.

  5. As you observe, see if you are being judgmental about some situation.

    For Example: You may look at a person of certain sex, color, profession or cultural background. This may bring up certain preconceived ideas. Separate the actual perception from the ideas contained in the mind.

  6. Notice the preconceived ideas present one by one. Simply become aware of what is there and move on.

  7. As you observe, see if there is something that does not make sense. Notice if any of your own ideas are contributing to that confusion. Simply become aware of what is there and move on.

  8. Expand your span of attention to as wide a context as possible, and let the physical and mental perceptions pour in, while doing this exercise.

  9. This exercise is done for 20 minute, which is the normal duration of a session. Several sessions may be given during a day, and over the course of days, until progress is observed.

  10. This exercise is completed when it becomes effortless.

  11. When this exercise is completed you may proceed to the next exercise.

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EXERCISE # 3: Something Missing

PURPOSE:  To discern the influence of something missing on the perception of what is there.

PREREQUISITE:  Exercise # 2 above.

STEPS:

  1. In this exercise you simply become aware of something missing that may influence observation.

  2. Notice the environment and the people in a causal, easygoing manner.

  3. Notice something that is puzzling, and about which full understanding is missing. Do not feel obliged to accept the explanations given; instead focus on what is puzzling.

  4. Carefully consider the broad context of the scene, and the purpose of the activity. Notice something specific that really does not make sense. Examine it closely including your viewpoint with respect to it.

  5. Observe your mind imagining reasons to fill the uncomfortable gap in understanding. Simply become aware of what is missing and move on.

  6. Notice questions you have for which satisfactory “answers” are missing. Examine the answers you have and notice what really does not make sense.

  7. Notice the impulse to come up with an answer. If there is no answer then acknowledge the fact. Do not make up an answer. Simply become aware of what is missing and move on.

  8. Repeat the above steps noticing things that are puzzling and for which satisfactory answers re not available.

  9. Expand your span of attention to as wide a context as possible, and let the physical and mental perceptions pour in, while doing this exercise.

  10. This exercise is done for 20 minute, which is the normal duration of a session. Several sessions may be given during a day, and over the course of days, until progress is observed.

  11. This exercise is completed when it becomes effortless.

  12. When this exercise is completed you may proceed to the next exercise.

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