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Being mindful as a meditative technique, may be very difficult to do, with an overly active mind. There is no way to quantify how much time we spend with our attention entangled in Mind (conscious metal activity). However from my own limited experience I would have to say it is fairly high. I would say more than 50% of our day is being spent entangled or identifying with thoughts and emotions. And I feel that is a very conservative approximation.
So let's say 50% of our time is lost in mind (random thoughts created from interaction with the environment; past thoughts; future projections; fragmented emotions; inner conversations and residuals from the aforementioned). 40% lost in daily activity in automatic pilot mode (performing normal daily activities in an unaware manner while being lost in thought). So actually one could say, we spend much more time lost in mind than 50%. Because We are also sometimes lost in mind during performance of daily activities. And 10% awareness of body when It's irritated (e.g. itching, sneezing, hunger, pain and such). Maybe more than this if we suffer from some bodily ailment.
Now please keep in mind these numbers are only used for demonstration purposes. They are far from accurate and completely different for each person. This is ONLY an example.
So how effective would mindfulness practice be for a person who's mind is like this? Do you think that someone who has lived with a condition of mind such as this, could simply jump into mindfulness practice So easily? It's possible depending upon the nature of the individual. But for many very unlikely.
So we may want to begin our practice first, with a method that will be useful for reducing mind's wandering and proliferating. If mind wanders too much, how can we possibly stay mindful within This very moment? We are always in the moment. But in this case we are unaware of it in detail. We are lost in an ocean of thoughts. It's always running from here to there. Like a monkey bouncing around from tree to tree. Most times active and moving.
So we must make effort to reduce it's activity. This way mindfulness practice is more effective because mind is less active. This extends the gap between thoughts which is fertile space for realizations to occur. If our mind (conscious mental constructs) is less active, then our attention or awareness tends to flow more naturally. It flows where ever needed instead of being caught up in always thinking.
In the beginning, it may be necessary to restrain mind. We are simply training so that it will become habitually one pointed. We may eventually no longer need to restrain it. One pointedness becomes our natural state of being. But in the beginning there may be the need to apply effort to reach that point of effortlessness. Then there is blissfulness. This blissfulness is simply neutrality. We become neutral in our responses and way of thinking.
So what is this natural mindfulness like?
Well one's attention need no longer be restrained. Our awareness flows naturally. Without effort. And because we no longer identify with thoughts and appearances, they are like shadows with no power. They subside as quickly as they have arisen. And sometimes nothing comes up at All. Just silence there. No self referencing either. Mind is no longer. So is ego. But since one is not yet at the end of the path. Self image will be reborn again. Then death; then rebirth. Over and over and over until finally, possibly, maybe, never again.
So we practice for complete realization by recognizing our true nature and abiding there. Consciousness becomes habituated to this stateless state. It becomes our normal way of being. And as We spend more time this way, more of those nasty defilements and their sources fall away. They fall away because we are knowing directly the peace of non being. We know the feel of non suffering. So there is no desire to revert to our old ways.
Please remember that such words as 'non being' are a poor attempt to express that which is prior to words.
Should I continue to make effort to be mindful?
There is no effort required. It happens naturally. For example one is driving down the road. There is awareness of the eyes blinking; the feel of the hands on the stirring wheel; the sensation of one's rear end touching the seat. The vehicles in the front; the vehicles on both sides; even vehicles across the median are all seen clearly. The bird's flying at eye level of one's windshield; that single piece of paper blowing across the road. Even clear comprehension of the movements and sounds made by the passenger beside you. All this is known in an instant. With no effort at all. One's awareness is 100% at the sense doors. Not usually as it normally is lost in thought. The vividness is extraordinary Because remember our attention is now naturally 100% in the moment.
Awareness is free to flow in all directions. There is no identification and recognition, so sensing many objects at once is instant. No need to name or describe appearances.
Now awareness is not always panoramic. Sometimes its focus is a single object. At that moment nothing else exists. There is only one pointedness. Even when the senses skim over many objects; because there is no identification Or recognition everything is of one taste.
There is only one. Not many. Consciousness does not differentiate in the slightest. Differentiation is now a choice. To say that there is only one is also an error. Everything simply is.
There is a quote I would like to reuse from a recent post of mine because I feel it is related.
There's something we must all remember. Suttas and all doctrine have been interpreted by many mind's before being put into print. How can one know whether they are valid unless one has known for oneself. If what I express rings true to any of you then take what has been said to heart. If not simply ignore my words. I take no offense. The Suttas and such are simply guides. That is all.