Mindfulness


30
Jul 12

Grocery Run

Sometimes, I take a drive to the grocery store on Sunday nights.

The radio is off. The window is open. The roads are empty.

If I am lucky with my timing, the weather is nice and the sun is setting.

I arrive at the grocery store and park in the parking lot. The lot is in the middle of a clearing, surrounded by trees. There are tall lamp posts shining halogen light on the ground.

A few people go into the store. They pick up abandoned carts along the way.

A few people come out of the store. They have bags in hand or they push their carts to their cars.

The air in the store is cold. The aisles are empty. There is space to walk around.

I pick up my items and head to the checkout line. I make my purchase, walk to my car and head home.

I feel the warm air coming in through the window, as I drive down my street.

My Sunday grocery runs are brief moments of calm. I would have never expected to find it going to buy groceries. But it is there.

If I can find it there, where else can I find it? More than likely, everywhere.

No beach required. I don’t have to start listening to New Age.

I just have to continue recognizing these calm moments in my life that happen naturally.


20
Jun 11

Ending Meditation

I have stopped meditating after three months of daily sessions.

I meditated for 5 minutes each day during the first two weeks. I increased the time to 10 minutes and I kept that up for a month and a half. Then, I tried to increase the time to 20 minutes, but that did not last long. After about 4 days, I went down to 15 minutes and stayed that way until I stopped meditating altogether.

For the past two weeks, I was just not feeling it. The log I was keeping showed that too.

I rated each session with a number 0 through 5. 0 meant that the session was awful. 5 meant that the session was excellent. I based my rating simply on the feeling that I had about it a few minutes afterwards.

The first two months, I had a weekly average of 1.43 or higher. That means that my sessions, on average, were decent to good. Sometimes I had an excellent feeling about meditating that day. Some days I felt like the session was awful. But on average, they were all pretty good.

But in the last month, the average dropped down to 1.29, 1.00, 0.71 and finally 0.43. They were trending towards awful.

I believe that the routine of doing it everyday for a set time made meditating boring. I was too consistent. So, I stopped.

My overall goal was to remove as much delusion as I could by studying my mental activities. I did not remove any delusion, but I definitely studied my mental activities.

I came up with a list of guidelines for myself while meditating that have carried over to my normal life. With the most enlightening rule being “Don’t reject anything”.

I reject a countless number of thoughts. I was very surprised to realize that. And I am still surprised at times when I realize that I am immediately rejecting some other new thought.

I would say that realization falls under the “insight” category. I definitely felt that sense of distance that I mentioned in my “attitude” goal. Unfortunately, I did not improve my “attention” very much.

I learned a lot. Meditating really gave me a different perspective on everything.

I am going to try to continue to recognize thoughts that I reject. I am going to try to continue to feel that sense of space between thoughts.

And I suspect that this will not be the last time I meditate.


6
Jun 11

Traffic Again

I guess I do a lot of thinking while I am in traffic, so that is why I write about it so often. Today, I had a good experience with it.

I was sitting in traffic this afternoon and a lesson from meditation came to me. I realized that I was not fully understanding where I was because I was attempting to reject the situation.

It is hard for me to describe the meaning of “fully understanding where I was”. I have heard mindfulness/meditation experts talk about fully being in the present moment. But I am now just beginning to understand what they mean.

Once I recognized my immediate rejection of the fact that I was sitting in traffic, I was able to visualize the situation without my immediate rejection.

I had a more objective point of view. And it was a pleasant feeling. I felt empowered.

I started noticing what color the cars were in front of me. I saw how the leaves on the trees were a deeper green because there were dark clouds above.

At that point, I felt like I had a choice between sitting in traffic feeling upset or sitting in traffic trying to reach a better understanding of everything.

That distance is showing up in my everyday life.


30
May 11

Meditation and Mindfulness, Naturally

I have been talking about meditation a lot recently. I want to make sure that I don’t lose sight of the difference between meditation and mindfulness. I have slightly modified my previous opinion on when to use each word.

Meditation (at least the kind that I practice) is when you sit still and concentrate on your breath. It is concentrated mindfulness.

Mindfulness is when you think of nothing other than the present moment. The color of the sky. The way your body is positioned. The smell of dinner cooking. Et cetera.

I have found that I am more mindful immediately after meditating. But you don’t have to meditate in order to be mindful. It is just good practice.

I think it is safe to say that meditation is not something that would naturally occur to someone. A person sitting down and doing nothing but thinking about his or her breath for long periods of time is not a person in their natural state.

Mindfulness is a different story. I have not determined if it is a natural thing to do or not. It does not come naturally to me. It could be because mindfulness just doesn’t come natural to anyone, but I doubt that. More than likely, I have built up years of habits in my thoughts that keep me away from mindfulness.

What does a child do? From what I can tell, they observe everything with a complete sense of wonder. They are less likely to be filled with worries about the future or to reminisce about the past. They seem to live in the present moment. But at the same time, a child is filled with imagination. Their minds are off in distant lands, flying in the sky, or riding ponies (or whatever it is they think of).

So, I am going to say that meditation is definitely not a natural thing to do. Mindfulness is natural but it is not the only way to think. Like most everything, there is a balance.

You need mindfulness in your life, just not all the time.


23
May 11

A Snake Under My Feet

While meditating today, I imagined that a snake slithered under my feet. I imagined myself getting up and stomping on its head.

I knew that I was just imagining the whole scenario. It was a distant picture in my head.

But I still felt a slight bit of fear from the thoughts that I had. The fear did not come from the potential of a snake actually moving under my feet. It only came from those pictures I had in my head.

My thoughts had manufactured emotions in me.

Continue reading →


9
May 11

Sunshine

A few days ago, I sat down to meditate. Before I began, I thought about the 5 guidelines for my attitude while meditating.

Don’t expect, force, cling, or reject anything. And don’t think while you are at it.

I was meditating outside that day. Half way through my 10 minute session, the sun came out from behind the clouds. My eyes were closed, but I saw the sunlight through my eyelids. Most importantly, I felt the warmth of the sun on my face.

I thought about how nice the sun felt. Immediately after that feeling, I wished that it would stay like that for the rest of my meditation time.

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25
Apr 11

Meditation Goals: Three Categories

I am still trying to answer that question I asked a month ago: What are some ways that you can measure progress with meditation?

So far, I have my overall goal: Remove as much delusion as I can by studying my mental activities.

I also have a few guidelines to follow in order to have the right attitude while meditating:

  1. Don’t expect anything.
  2. Don’t force anything.
  3. Don’t cling to anything.
  4. Don’t reject anything.
  5. Don’t think.

But my overall goal is too abstract for practical measurements. And while my attitudinal guidelines can be measured, trying to achieve them alone will not get me to my end goal.

Continue reading →


18
Apr 11

Your Attitude While Meditating

I am sticking with Mindfulness in Plain English this week.

We are on Chapter 4, if you are following along at home. From what I can tell, the website contains all the information the book has, but there are some formatting problems and misspellings.

I suggest that you buy the book. I have read a lot of meditation/mindfulness books. This one is the best I have come across. And if you are interested in this blog, you will be interested in the book.

Continue reading →


11
Apr 11

A Rational Goal from Mindfulness in Plain English

For the past 4 weeks, I have been mediating once a day. At the end of that post, I asked if there are ways to measure progress within meditation.

In order to see progress, I need to know what I am progressing towards. This means that I need some sort of goal or set of goals that I am trying to achieve with meditating.

At first, I thought that having goals with meditating was antithetical to the mindfulness philosophy. But as I said in that previous post, during meditation, thoughts need to be let go. But having a goal in practicing meditation in general is all right.

Henepola Gunaratana says something similar in Mindfulness in Plain English:

“As meditators, we all must have a goal, for if we do not have a goal, we will simply be groping in the dark blindly following somebody’s instructions on meditation.”

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21
Mar 11

Quantifying Mindfulness Redux

I have been meditating for 5 minutes a day for the past 7 days.

I sit in a private location. My eyes are closed. I have a 5 minute countdown timer set on my phone.

I attempt to think about what I am experiencing through my senses.

After the 5 minutes are up, my timer goes off and write down what I thought about and how I am feeling after the meditation session.

The main purpose of these sessions has been to practice mindfulness. Nothing else. Keeping track of the thoughts that I had during the process is a completely peripheral goal.

Continue reading →