@Bunks when you say "Struggle to remain mindful" What exactly do you mean ?
Is it just a matter of the mind wandering/meandering ?
One can't get (or take) back so called unmindful moments, one can only becoming more aware of it happening ie, be mindful...
More often than not the mind becomes charmed by its own thoughts , however if one becomes accustom to the fact that thought itself is the thinker, ( spending time on the cushion, will help with this) awareness will eventually become the observer and the mind will not be dragged into the experience ... (when one overcomes the delusion within, the illusion without will subside)
If you are aware that this is happening...What would you call this awareness ? (clue it begins with "M" )
What to eat and what not to eat may be of some importance, however "training the mind" (cushion time) is the key to maintaining an ongoing mindful state...But then I could well be just talking through my ass ( pun intended)
You could try eating a healthy lunch, like ice-cream with a bit of lettuce.
But seriously, I have a very small lunch, otherwise I get very sleepy in the afternoon.
All the studies about animals and how we relate to them are interesting. I always enjoy how science figures things out. But often we already innately know these things, and while science definitely has a place, it mostly only look at one aspect separated out from the whole and then fails later to put the whole puzzle together. Things like our relationships to the natural world, including animals, are much too complex to narrow into a study about how dogs recognize human emotion. Of course they do. But once the study proves what we know it does nothing to add to the bigger, more complex puzzle of human-animal relations. As another example, the way science and thus the medical world views the human body results in very poor care of it because it mostly lacks the big picture. Just like the way we take care of our planet and relationships within it.
But I think a lot of that is because of our view that nature (and its inhabitants) are "out there" while we are observing from another side. But it wasn't until we over-comfortized our homes that they became less shelter and more way of life, disconnecting us from our natural lives as we removed ourselves from it and then outsourced everything that keeps us alive to other people. The more time you spend with nature and with animals of all sorts, the more you know it. Thinking we can truly understand that vast connection by going to the zoo or spending 20 minutes watching birds and then draw conclusions is a little silly. Every attribute of "nature" interacts with our cells and gives them information. The less time you spend within it, the more processed your body is. Just like food, the more processed crap you eat, the worse off you are. The more processed climate control, furniture, lights, etc increase our inability to adapt and traverse the natural world-the worse off we are as a result. We think of ourselves as "civilized" because we look at the uncivilized world and think of them as savage people who are behind the times. When in reality, many of them are much more grounded in the natural world and are better off than we are despite our insistence otherwise.
I'm not really sure where I am going with this, lol. Just that I think yes, we have immense connections to nature and animals. But we do a poor job understanding it because it's a huge, complex web and we tend to always look at only segments. We are every bit a part of nature as a wolf is, and our insistence that we are not has only brought us, and our planet and our relationship with it, great harm.
We often think of nature as needing to get out on a hike in the woods or something. But nature is everything around us, including the ground, the plants, the trees. Even putting a houseplant at your desk brings benefits. If you have time on lunch, eat outside. Take your shoes off and put them in the grass at a park. It makes a big difference. Fresh air and sunshine is required for our health every bit as much as food is.
I get everyone except the Fish...Beer. Heard of catfish and dogfish but beerfish?
I get everyone except the Fish...Beer. Heard of catfish and dogfish but beerfish?
The bread like batter around the fish in fish & chips is usually made out of beer batter. Flour, eggs and beer amongst other things.
Did somebody die or something?
Every day is potentially Nirvana Day. Go visit a monastery whenever you can if necessary. Build a shrine or send an email if you can't ...
Point (maybe it's having a beer with fish and chips?)
I should also point out that after 20 years of Zen practice I have a relatively good idea of what is authentic and what is not. The comment that the people that we are most adverse to have the most to teach us is simplistic and plain wrong. All they can do is teach us something about ourselves and our opinions, and that is not at all what I am talking about. I am talking about people within Shambhala that have been given a teacher designation solely because they took a specific number of courses, NOT because someone, such as a Zen master, made the determination that they were in fact competent to teach. That is a completely different thing. As my friend Jack at the Unitarian place said, the thing he noticed about Zen teachers is that they never give you an answer unless you ask a question. Which, when you think about it, is pretty smart.
There has to be some objective standard to decide whether or not someone is qualified for teaching, and anyway, all a teacher does is point the way. Their main job is to just show up and be available. It's up to the individual to sit in meditation and wake up. That intent has to come from within that person, not from outside, such as w/ a teacher or an institution. As the Buddha said, I teach two things and two things only... the fact of suffering, and a way to put an end to that suffering. He most certainly did not teach what I see at Shambhala, and even Tibetan Buddhism is a huge variation of the Buddha's teaching, and is in fact a combination of Buddhism and the indigenous Bon religion of Tibet.
I also feel that there are people here that are sort of attacking me for speaking the truth as I see it, which is a real indication of cult like behavior. Just go to any online forum and say something negative about Scientology and watch all the trolls come out to denounce those comments. If someone does not have respect for someone else's view points (meaning viewpoints that are based on actual lived experience, NOT beliefs), if they have rigid ideas about what someone else is supposed to do or say and don't understand that every situation is unique and one of a kind, then they know nothing at all about Buddhism. They have simply turned it into another dogmatic religion, and the last thing this world needs is another fundamentalist religion.
@Bunks Theravadin monks traditionally eat once a day, which means a seista after lunch. We lays often do not have that luxury. An after two hours 'nut snack' seems a possible solution. A large meal can make one drowsy ...
I cannot add a lot to what has been said, but just would like to consider the question of why we are advised by the precepts to avoid killing in the first place.
It has seemed to me that a significant part of the reason is that thoughtless taking of life, whether careless or deliberate, enhances and solidifies our sense of possessing a solid, separate self, distinct and apart from other beings.
Life feeds upon life, and our biological existence demands that we, also, feed upon life or die ourselves - but to do so needlessly, without thought, compassion, without sadness and without mindfulness is wrong action.
On the other hand, to follow the precept rigidly and absolutely is not only impossible, but seems also to overlook the purpose and intent of that precept and doesn't seem to me to be mindful practice.
I think Thich Nhat Hanh's book - Thundering Silence, the Sutra on Knowing the Better Way to Catch a Snake - might be relevant here - " ... how to see reality clearly without becoming stuck in notions and ideologies, however noble they may be."