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Mindfulness, potentially a hindrance?

EarthninjaEarthninja WandererWest Australia Veteran

Below is a copy paste from a lady who is a co-founder of liberation unleashed. I love her brutal honesty about things. I really resonate with this and thought to share. :)

"I can't do this fast, I am trying to be mindful!", I hear this periodically from different people in the kitchen. Mindfulness in their understanding is being someone who is observing and vigilant right before the action happens. It's very simple to see how another component - an observer - introduced into the experience. This, of cause, slow actions down significantly. This is very simplified approximate cource of practicing "mindfulness":
Step 1- the thought arises of what is the next step.
Step 2 - regestering the thought ("mindfulness").
Step 3 - movement happening.
Step 4 - regestering the movement ("mindfulness").
Step 5 - next thought, evaluating what happened and another thought of what should happen next, observing these thoughts ("mindfulness")
Then these steps repeat themselves through the day.
I am not a fan of mindfulness, even though I understand that this is unavoidable intermediate period in the life of a spiritual seeker. Times come when "mindfulness" drops, and what takes over is a simple movement of life that does not have a need to monitor itself. Every movement is alive and significant, it doesn't get lost, it present vibrantly, there is no thought process behind it. The next step is the most harmonious continuation of the previous step, and no decesion is needed, the step is right there, the life leaning towards this step in joyful, unobstructed movement. That is when we talk about a Zen master working in the kitchen: "When he washes the dishes, he just washes the dishes. When he carries the water, he just carries the water". He is not trying to be mindful, he is a flow of life itself. The movements of such individual are precise, efficient, graceful. It is a gift to come across a Buddah at a gas pump

Comments

  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    It's an interesting take - but not at all what I thought I knew and understood about what mindfulness practice really is all about. I guess for me, I figure I was raised in protestant Christian (Episcopal) church my whole young life, and I KNOW what 'good' is. That's not the part that trips me up. It's not being accustomed to paying full (or almost full in my case) to the here and now - that's the tricky part. I'm surprised to hear someone take it the way it was expressed in the article you've shared, tbh.

    lobsterInvincible_summer
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited October 2015

    It isn't what I would call "mindfulness" either... Too much thinking.

    Mindfulness isn't over-thinking every movement, it's just being aware of what's going on without distraction.

    Her step by step version of mindfulness is not mindfulness because it is in itself a distraction. When she says the master is not trying to be mindful she is right but he is being mindful, lol.

    Just my two cents.

    Earthninjalobsterdantepw
  • @Earthninja said: ....what takes over is a simple movement of life that does not have a need to monitor itself. Every movement is alive and significant, it doesn't get lost, it present vibrantly, there is no thought process behind it.

    Yes, that's mindfulness, or at least one aspect of it. Initially people practice mindfulness in a contrived and conscious way, but gradually it becomes natural. It's the same for any new skill that we learn, there is that awkward learning phase and then eventually it clicks and we can just do it, and don't have to think about it any more.

    EarthninjaInvincible_summer
  • EarthninjaEarthninja Wanderer West Australia Veteran

    I remember trying to be mindful of the sensations in my feet whilst walking...
    Best thing I ever did was just drop that as "practice"
    We are already fully aware and alive, I found just dropping any attempt to change the present moment has cleared up a lot.
    Thanks for the feedback guys, I think she is referring to people who begin mindfulness as a practice and beat themselves up when they are lost in thought. Always trying trying trying...
    As if there is something wrong with them or the present moment. :)

    Cinorjer
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran
    edited October 2015

    @Earthninja said: As if there is something wrong with them or the present moment. :)

    No, mindfulness is about being in the present moment, exploring it, seeing what it is really like. Unfortunately this doesn't come naturally for a lot of us, hence the need to learn a new skill.
    Perhaps you are are making judgements about a practice without really understanding what it is?

    lobsterInvincible_summer
  • Trying to be mindful is like practising scales on the piano. Once it is mastered, the real playing begins.

    The Pali term is sati or sarati ie. to remember or remind oneself. One can be mindful washing the dishes, performing a dance or tai chi, doing surgery or robbing a bank!

    The important point is how one uses sati.

    Then there is sampajanna or clear comprehension. Being fully aware of what one is doing in the moment instead of being mentally elsewhere.

    http://www.palikanon.com/english/wtb/s_t/sampajanna.htm

    Cinorjerupekka
  • If you have to ask what Jazz is, you’ll never understand it.
    —Louis Armstrong

    Thanks guys, agree with those who are mindfully not agreeing with the mindless fan club of those not being mindful.
    Not sure I even have a mind after that statement. :3

  • Actually mindfulness is a lot like learning a musical instrument!

    Invincible_summer
  • EarthninjaEarthninja Wanderer West Australia Veteran

    @SpinyNorman said:
    Perhaps you are are making judgements about a practice without really understanding what it is?

    Or visa versa.

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran
    edited October 2015

    Years ago I was responsible for organising the cooking on a weekend retreat. We decided to cook a vegetable curry for one of the evening meals, which involved a lot of chopping and preparation. One lady was chopping onions but she was being painfully slow, perhaps thinking that she was being "mindful". After a while I just had to tell her to speed up because we needed to start cooking the onions in order to get the curry prepared in time. So mindfulness involves more than just being in the present, there is also a broader awareness of context and consequences, being prepared, being organised.

    So your Zen master would find washing the dishes difficult if he/she had forgotten to heat up some water first. I think it's really more about doing one thing at a time.

    lobsterInvincible_summer
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited October 2015

    Well said @SpinyNorman ...

    Initially we have to slow down to practice mindfulness. Slow onion chopping, slow walking etc. I like to practice walking at an extremely slow pace in a formal setting. However eventually we can be mindful at normal and even beyond normal pace because we are focussed. This is why corporates are interested as mentioned in another thread - increased drone efficiency ...

    I am not a fan of mindfullness as described in the initial post. It seems like a mindless straw man awareness problem, if we are being brutally frank ... :)

    Earthninja
  • EarthninjaEarthninja Wanderer West Australia Veteran

    I guess where I'm coming from and that of the OP quote is that at some stage the whole act of trying to be mindful becomes an effort almost away from the present moment.
    The reason is it is seen that there is nobody "being mindful" attention just moves according to it's conditioning.

    Which is why we can't stay one pointed on anything. There is no actual controller. Trying to be mindful often gives an impression of someone trying to do something.
    But yes a new set of conditioning does begin to emerge. Away from thought patterns.

    Sorry if I sound abrupt, I really don't mean it that way <3
    It's just life has always been living itself, I like mindfulness at the beginning just to create the distance but this should be dropped also.
    Who exactly is being mindful?
    We are pretending this moment can be changed according to our personal will. And that's what causes the duality .

  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    edited October 2015

    Times come when "mindfulness" drops, and what takes over is a simple movement of life that does not have a need to monitor itself. Every movement is alive and significant, it doesn't get lost, it present vibrantly, there is no thought process behind it.

    Mindfulness is not a hindrance because that is mindfulness! However, that doesn't mean you don't remain aware of what's happening and what is appropriate and inappropriate.

    The 5 steps above are really not proper mindfulness practice. You don't need to "evaluate" anything when you go to wash your car, you just wash your car and that's it. Ideas of mindfulness and mindfulness itself, are two different things. You don't need a bunch of ideas just to wash your car mindfully, all you need is soap and water. :)

    Earthninja
  • EarthninjaEarthninja Wanderer West Australia Veteran

    So why call it mindfulness? Why not just wash your car? Where is the practice in that?

  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    edited October 2015

    @Earthninja said:
    So why call it mindfulness? Why not just wash your car? Where is the practice in that?

    Because when most people wash their car, they are actually doing something else. Perhaps they are still at work arguing with their boss. When in fact they are actually home now just washing the car. But in their mind, they are still at work arguing with their boss. It's not appropriate to be arguing with your boss when you are at home washing your car. So with mindfulness, we recognize that it's inappropriate to be arguing with the boss, when we are supposed to be washing the car. Then, because that's inappropriate, we stop arguing with the boss and just wash the car.

    Earthninjalobsterrobotupekka
  • @Earthninja said: We are pretending this moment can be changed according to our personal will. And that's what causes the duality .

    I don't think we're trying to change anything, the effort is to actually be aware of the present, in the present so to speak. For many of us this doesn't come naturally, we spend so much time in the past and present, and the problem is compounded by the business and complexity of modern life.
    Living more fully in the present means our experience is much richer, but it also means we have a better chance of seeing clearly the way things really are, hopefully enabling us to live more skilfully, grasping less and suffering less.

    Earthninjalobster
  • EarthninjaEarthninja Wanderer West Australia Veteran

    :) I do understand the theory behind if. I used to practice it as well. I used triggers to initiate mindfulness like water and cars.

    I think it's great practice for stress relief and enjoying the moment. I don't know, it just doesn't make sense to me to do it anymore. It feels fake? Like in trying to be more aware yet awareness is already fully here. Completely.

    I feel mindfulness is simply trying to use the same thing that causes absent minded ness to solve it's own problem?

    We believe we are a person, that's why our thoughts molest us. So the person then begins the practice of mindfulness to try and stay present?

    Yet we are already present, the attachment to thoughts is the problem. It's not a bad practice by any means but I am so much happier not trying to do it.
    It just does itself, any practice just gets in the way if what's already here.

    I'm not criticising you guys that do this, each to their own :) just sharing my opinion and I value yours

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran
    edited October 2015

    @Earthninja said: We believe we are a person, that's why our thoughts molest us. So the person then begins the practice of mindfulness to try and stay present?

    Also to examine the assumption that we are a person, and to be aware of how our thoughts molest us, and so on. There is a large element of self-awareness involved.

  • In my case, I don't try mindfulness while practicing. Instead, I try "single heart" (or single mind), think of Buddha and ask for wisdom and courage and purifications of six roots.
    I try to dial into the Buddha frequency. Without single mind, practice is not so much different than just counting the minutes.

  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran
    edited October 2015

    Perhaps we need to discuss the difference between being intentionally mindful and simply paying attention?

    "Dirty dishes in the sink? Time to practice being mindful. This is me being mindful...these are dishes in the sink...now I'm turning on the water...I"m focusing on the sink now...wash, wash, wash...my mind is washing dishes..."

    Versus: "Dirty dishes in the sink? Time to wash the dishes." (washes dishes)

    My own opinion is that people confuse mindfulness with focus or concentration. I've seen people in mindfulness training walking along in file, each one concentrating so tightly on their footsteps that they're like guitar strings about to snap. They're mindful of being mindful. That's a tight focus of attention on your actions, not an awareness of what's happening around you.

    I started off like that, as do all Zennists trying to imitate the Masters. Eventually I stopped being mindful and started paying attention. Did I master being totally in the moment? No. I'm no Master. I can still get lost in thought and walk into a wall. But I do try to pay attention.

    silverEarthninjalobster
  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    Gosh, I think that lady in the op had the total wrong idea about what being mindful is. Still. But @Cinorjer explained it rather well, I must say. If one HAS to explain it! O.o

    I suppose - @Earthninja - there are (and you may be one) people who are already mindful enough where there is nothing to learn about how to do it. I found mindfulness such a big deal because I was constantly thinking about my other problems almost 24/7. I was decidedly unaware of my surroundings.

  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran
    edited October 2015

    @Cinorjer said: Perhaps we need to discuss the difference between being intentionally mindful and simply paying attention?

    I can't see the difference. If you're not paying attention then you're not being mindful.

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    Yes, it isn't like I stand there repeating "Washing dishes I am aware I am washing dishes". Only when I notice that I am drifting into the past or future do I gently guide myself back to washing dishes.

    Like the breath in sitting meditation or steps in walking meditation. We often breathe, walk and wash dishes so it isn't like a step by step breakdown of the activity is necessary to do what needs to be done with attention.

    silverCinorjer
  • EarthninjaEarthninja Wanderer West Australia Veteran

    I don't know if this helps or not but the thing to realise is the reason you have to try and practice mindfulness is that you have no control...

    If you had control over attention or even your thoughts, you wouldn't need to "practice"
    It certainly seems like we control the practice of mindfulness but why can't we hold attention on simply washing dishes?
    Because there is no controller... :)

    When I realised this I dropped the practices, some continue by themselves. Mindfulness either happens or it doesn't. There's no control over it. :/

    Life is just living itself, when you realise this the awe blows you away. :)

  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran
    edited October 2015

    @Earthninja, I suspect you're still starry-eyed from this new crowd (Advaitaists?) because what you're saying about mindfulness 'practice' isn't at all how I understand it and there truly isn't much to understand! For me, this mindfulness thing is a simple matter of paying more attention to one's surroundings - not to robotize your awareness. I know that sounds kinda silly, but so does that lady in your op. :(

    EarthninjaInvincible_summer
  • DairyLamaDairyLama Veteran
    edited October 2015

    @Earthninja said:Mindfulness either happens or it doesn't. There's no control over it. :/

    Not in my experience. Mindfulness is a skill which can be learned and developed, just like any other skill. Driving a car, sailing a boat, playing a musical instrument, it's at that level, all that's required is practice and motivation. Initially it's all very awkward and self-conscious but gradually it become natural and you can just do it. That's when it begins to get interesting. ;)

    lobsterEarthninja
  • @KarikoPuppies said:
    In my case, I don't try mindfulness while practicing. Instead, I try "single heart" (or single mind), think of Buddha and ask for wisdom and courage and purifications of six roots.
    I try to dial into the Buddha frequency. Without single mind, practice is not so much different than just counting the minutes.

    I find what you say very interesting. It seems completely different to what is being discussed. You seem to be referring to being mindful of Buddha Nature or perhaps a heartfelt faith? I also appreciate your ideas of being mindful or resonating with 'Buddha Frequency'. <3

    Earthninja
  • KarikoPuppiesKarikoPuppies Veteran
    edited October 2015

    @lobster said:
    I find what you say very interesting. It seems completely different to what is being discussed. You seem to be referring to being mindful of Buddha Nature or perhaps a heartfelt faith? I also appreciate your ideas of being mindful or resonating with 'Buddha Frequency'. <3

    Thank you for the comment lobster <3
    Let me just babble a bit more about this =)
    This world is going around based on the Law, we can call it the Law of nature, The True Law. Sun rises, sun sets, people are born, people dies, water boils at certain degree of temperature is the examples of this Law at working. I am suggesting to think of Buddha and his teachings while meditation, maybe we could think of one verses of sutras for example, one good way is gratitude for the teaching, that would help dialing into that Law, I call it the buddha channel ( if one does not like chanting- chanting makes strong frequency ). Without help of this power we are not going to change our inner world not to mention being enlightened. Because we are what we are because of our past life karma and this is already made and unchangeable. Only by knocking on your buddha seed and wake it up to sprout is the way and we need to tune into this frequency to do that. I am saying we need source to get something out of. That is the buddha channel. well. I myself have hard time doing this though. Just think of how we dial FM/AM radio. sometimes we have static sound, sometimes good clear sound depending on frequency.
    For those who dial into this channel real correctly(when your frequency is exactly the same as this Law, then (I've been told) he/she will experience the golden light all around him/her and it feels like heaven with your body up in the air for a nano second. Sounds like a fairy tale but there are some people actually experience this. ( unless its mara's trick! ). believe it or not is all up to you~!
    actually I would like to add one more point about this frequency thing.
    in this universe there are other frequencies other than buddha channel such as evil spirits.
    so we have to be real careful because they will come right away if you call them even by mistake. That is why you don't mess with Ouija board or other mantras that calls bad spirits. we don't take this evil entities seriously enough. just think of what Jesus had said about Satan. ( I know, I know...I use to laugh at these word ). Only the names are different but in buddhas teachings, he mentions these evil spirits too.

    CinorjerEarthninjasilver
  • Is mindfulness a hindrance? Well, the Buddha considered it important enough to make it one of the 8 Fold Path.

    I would have liked the person writing the article to have provided their definition mindfulness. It is much more than the exercise in mindfulness training they described.

    Best definition of mindfulness I've seen is - patient, open, non-judgmental awareness of whatever is present in the present.
    (Umm. That sounds a lot like meditation.)
    .
    Attention and awareness are trainable skills. Which is probably why difficulty with mindfulness goes along with difficulty with sitting meditation. Or stated in a more positive way, Siting meditation leads to mindfulness off the cushion.

    For a good read on the subject I would suggest "Mindfulness for beginners" by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

    Best Wishes

    lobsterEarthninjasilver
  • EarthninjaEarthninja Wanderer West Australia Veteran

    Thanks for the comments guys, it's nice to explore ideas and see where you all are coming from.
    I guess it's a case of I'm wearing green glasses and you are wearing red ones. We are looking at the same thing but see it differently. That's cool :)
    Everybody has a different view.
    I'm certainly not going to suggest to someone who is starting out to not be mindful. I guess it depends on why one wants to be more mindful.

    silver
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @Earthninja said:
    I don't know if this helps or not but the thing to realise is the reason you have to try and practice mindfulness is that you have no control...

    If you had control over attention or even your thoughts, you wouldn't need to "practice"
    It certainly seems like we control the practice of mindfulness but why can't we hold attention on simply washing dishes?
    Because there is no controller... :)

    When I realised this I dropped the practices, some continue by themselves. Mindfulness either happens or it doesn't. There's no control over it. :/

    Life is just living itself, when you realise this the awe blows you away. :)

    @Earthninja
    It would seem that there are as many takes on what is mindfulness as there are mindful people who supposedly practice it....(Or in your case not practice it :) )

    What do you think happens when one 'practices' vipassana @Earthninja ? Through observation one is also 'training' ones mind to become more aware, and it's this new-found awareness which acts as a rudder of which to help steer this psycho-physical phenomenon in the 'right' direction ie across the vast ocean of Samsara using "Right View/Understanding" (which comes from mindfulness practice) as the sail )...

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sati_(Buddhism)#Definition

    "The word sati derives from a root meaning 'to remember,' but as a mental factor it signifies presence of mind, attentiveness to the present, rather than the faculty of memory regarding the past. It has the characteristic of not wobbling, i.e. not floating away from the object. Its function is absence of confusion or non-forgetfulness. It is manifested as guardianship, or as the state of confronting an objective field. Its proximate cause is strong perception (thirasaññā) or the four foundations of mindfulness"

    I'm a big fan of mindfulness ....when I remember to practice it :lol: (Um mm so what am I doing when not practising it ? ... "wobbling" off course perhaps ? )

    lobsterEarthninja
  • @Cinorjer said:
    My own opinion is that people confuse mindfulness with focus or concentration. I've seen people in mindfulness training walking along in file, each one concentrating so tightly on their footsteps that they're like guitar strings about to snap. They're mindful of being mindful. That's a tight focus of attention on your actions, not an awareness of what's happening around you.

    Well said.
    Indeed the differences can be subtle. Attentive awareness is possible and requires practice, it may 'just happen' for awhile. It may then just stop happening and we have to tighten or refocus.

    I started off like that, as do all Zennists trying to imitate the Masters. Eventually I stopped being mindful and started paying attention. Did I master being totally in the moment? No. I'm no Master. I can still get lost in thought and walk into a wall. But I do try to pay attention.

    Returning to the present being is a conscious decision. A choice, a mindful practice. It takes more or less effort, it may require adjustment. The very contrived way of walking discussed in the first post is something I have been taught. As such it is a useful refresher but may or may not equate with our present step.

    Cinorjer
  • @Earthninja said: I guess it depends on why one wants to be more mindful.

    It certainly makes life more interesting.

    lobsterEarthninja
  • @Earthninja said: I guess it's a case of I'm wearing green glasses and you are wearing red ones. We are looking at the same thing but see it differently. That's cool :)

    So how would you describe your current approach - is it sort of just going with the flow, letting things happen, something like that?

  • EarthninjaEarthninja Wanderer West Australia Veteran

    @SpinyNorman said: So how would you describe your current approach - is it sort of just going with the flow, letting things happen, something like that?

    Yeah I guess? But this didn't come about because I "try" to go with the flow or let life happen.
    It was just realised that this is already the case. It really feels like the brain sees through it's own illusion. When that happens the "seeker" drops.

    My approach now is I don't know? I've seen that life is fully just living itself although it doesn't always feel that way. So there isn't a full realisation here.

    But enough has been seen that the seeker has kind of dropped off , I know life is fully complete right now. Why would I try to be mindful? Life is simply expressing itself through the character called me.

    To be honest spiny I guess the only practice I now do is just sit somewhere away from other people. It's all the talking that has a huge pull into the identity.

    Meditation or mindfulness practice (formally) seems pointless here. Because life is already fully complete and perfect. There is no one who steps aside from what's going on and tries to change it. Although it appears that way.

    Hmm... I'm in some sort of transitional phase so I wouldn't take what I say or suggest seriously :P

  • @Earthninja said:
    Hmm... I'm in some sort of transitional phase so I wouldn't take what I say or suggest seriously :P

    Don't forget that things change. Life might not always seem perfect and complete. It's when things get tough that the benefits of practicing mindfulness and meditation are more apparent.
    I learned the hard way that taking things for granted can leave me vulnerable to much suffering.

    Then the jagged edge appears
    Through the distant clouds of tears.
    I'm like a bridge that was washed away;
    My foundations were made of clay.

    Eric Clapton "My Father's Eyes"

    Earthninja
  • @Earthninja said:
    Hmm... I'm in some sort of transitional phase so I wouldn't take what I say or suggest seriously :P

    Good plan. :p

    I find that meditation and mindfulness is required when we don't do it. o:)

  • EarthninjaEarthninja Wanderer West Australia Veteran

    @lobster said:
    I find that meditation and mindfulness is required when we don't do it. o:)

    If you find it is required then that's fine. You do it ;)

    lobster
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    When you have an urge to break the precepts, mindfulness comes in quite handy! Being mindful of what is appropriate is how you keep the precepts to begin with. But, it doesn't have to be as severe as breaking an actual precept. It could be any kind of unskillful action or even just unskillful thoughts. With mindfulness, you'll be able to recognize what is skillful and what isn't, then adjust yourself accordingly. If your thoughts and behavior are already perfect, then you probably don't need mindfulness anymore.

    :)

    robot
  • breath in with mindfulness of 'everything is anicca, dukka, anatta'
    breath out with mindfulness of 'let go of everything, develop metta to oneself, kindness to all other beings'

    if anyone do not agree, just Let go

    lobsterEarthninja
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