Discerning the Environment

seriously

Reference: Mindfulness Approach
[Note: These exercises have been revised after the feedback from many successful applications.]

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Here you employ all your five physical senses—touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste—to extrovert your attention. This exercise shall pull you out of any mental confusion or disturbance.

You do this exercise under the discipline of mindfulness. Under this discipline you do not avoid, resist, suppress, deny or interfere with the activity of the mind. Let the mind carry out its natural functions in the background.

You may do these exercises yourself, or have somebody help you do them.

NOTE: A person, who is afflicted by neurosis or psychosis, shall definitely need assistance in doing this exercise. He or she should be assisted with considerable gentleness and patience.

The sense of touch, when exercised, can bring considerable relief even to a person who is completely disconnected with reality.

In general, an extroverted and well-oriented attention brings clarity to thinking.

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EXERCISE # 1: EXTROVERSION

PURPOSE: To extrovert the attention by exploring the five physical senses.

GUIDING PRINCIPLE: The Discipline of Mindfulness

STEPS:

(Touch)

  1. Go to an environment where you can explore the sense of touch without getting distracted.

  2. Touch two different surfaces nearby and discern the difference between them. Touch them repeatedly until you can discern the uniqueness of each surface.

  3. Similarly touch other surfaces carefully and discern their uniqueness. 

  4. As you touch the surfaces, keep aware of the activities of the mind without interfering. Let the mind carry out its natural functions in the background.

  5. Explore the sensation of touch until you find yourself doing it happily without internal resistance.

 (Sight)

  1. Go to an environment where you can explore the perception of shapes and colors without getting distracted.

  2. Look at two different objects nearby and discern the difference between them. Look at them repeatedly until you discern the uniqueness of each object.

  3. Similarly look at other objects carefully and discern their unique shapes, colors, etc.

  4. As you look at the objects, keep aware of the activities of the mind without interfering. Let the mind carry out its natural functions in the background.

  5. Explore the perception of sight until you find yourself doing it happily without internal resistance.

 (Hearing, Smell & Taste)

  1. Go to a coffee shop where the atmosphere is pleasant and relaxed. Alternatively, go for a walk in a crowded place with some sweets and gums in your pocket.

  2. Explore the perception of hearing as above until you find yourself doing it happily without internal resistance.

  3. Explore the perception of smell as above until you find yourself doing it happily without internal resistance.

  4. Explore the perception of taste as above until you find yourself doing it happily without internal resistance.

  5. Recycle through all five physical sense perceptions until you find that your attention is fully extroverted.

  6. Keep the duration of the session to 20 minutes. Do as many sessions as necessary to fully extrovert your attention.

STEPS FOR ASSISTED VERSION:

  1. The guide gently directs the student by pointing: “Touch that ______.”

  2. If the student hesitates, the guide gently takes the student’s hand and makes it touch the intended surface.

  3. The guide gently directs the student by pointing: “Look at that ______.”

  4. If the student hesitates, the guide gently directs the student’s attention again to look at the intended object.

  5. The guide gently directs the student by pointing: “Listen to that ______,” “Smell that ______,” “Taste that ______,” one at a time as appropriate.

  6.  If the student hesitates, the guide gently directs the student’s attention by giving the command again.

  7. Continue assisting the student with this exercise until he can do it unassisted.

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EXERCISE # 2: ORIENTATION

PURPOSE: To orient oneself by exploring directions and distances.

PREREQUISITE: This is a higher level exercise. If you are having trouble on this exercise, then return to the exercise above.

GUIDING PRINCIPLE: The Discipline of Mindfulness

STEPS:

  1. Go to an environment where you can explore different directions and distances without getting distracted.

  2. Look at two different objects and assess their directions and distances from you until you fully discern their respective orientations.

  3. Similarly assess the directions and distances of other objects around you carefully and discern their respective orientations. 

  4. As you assess the directions and distances, keep aware of the activities of the mind without interfering. Let the mind carry out its natural functions in the background.

  5. Explore the orientation of objects until you find yourself doing it happily without internal resistance.

  6. Keep the duration of the session to 20 minutes. Do as many sessions as necessary until you can easily orient your attention in any environment.

  7. If you are having difficulty with this exercise, return to the previous exercise.

STEPS FOR ASSISTED VERSION:

  1. The guide gently directs the student by pointing: “Get the idea of the direction and distance of ______.”

  2. If the student hesitates, the guide gently directs the student’s attention again to estimate the intended direction and distance.

  3. Continue assisting the student with this exercise until he can do it unassisted.

  4. If the student has any difficulty with this exercise, return to the previous exercise.

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