Many of us do our daily practice/exercises in various forms. It works. However, today I'm reminded of two one-off high impact exercises that I did that brought big immediate benefits, considering the time and energy investment. I will share the two exercises and am interested to learn if any of you did similar things that I/we could also try.
1) Gratitude for (some aspects) of our misfortunes
The exercise is to look and see, and to write down in detail, all of the benefits that occurred as a result of our misfortunes. We generally tend to think that our misfortunes brought only the negative, and have a "woe-is-me" attitude, but if we look deeply, we see that there is always some good in the bad. In my case, I wrote down a whole A4 page margin to margin on what benefits occurred as a result of my mental-health troubles. Without negating the troubles, this made me look at the whole thing in a more balanced and positive way.
2) The exercise of listing in detail all of the misfortunes that did NOT happen to us
We have all experienced some misfortune. We tend to focus on those one or two or three misfortunes and, again, take a "woe is me" attitude. But we can list in detail (say, write for 15 minutes) all of the misfortunes that did NOT happen to us, but can and do happen to some. When I did this exercise, my reaction was: "oh, the misfortunes that happened to me are not that bad, it could have been much worse" Again, the result was a more balanced and positive outlook.
Do you know of similar one-off exercises that worked for you and that I/we could try?
I come up with a lot of these because sometimes that's all the squirrel brain has span for. Here's a few I've found some use in. They are rough but might polish up nicely with personal adjustments.
Stop, Look, and Listen
When the mind is being a bully, noticing it and stopping what its doing by putting your attention into the eyes or ears or other senses.
Whatever you're doing physically in the present moment gets the attention and the mind gets as little as possible. You can tell its working because the details of whatever you're doing start to become clearer. It works even better as an accompaniment with other mindfulness techniques like acknowledging and admonishing stray thoughts of ill will and then stopping, looking, listening with greater attention to the immediate surroundings.
Visualize with the mind's eye and with attention on a location in the chest or belly that feels nice, a flower blooming.
Mine's often around the bottom of the sternum but it moves around. Attach the visualization of the mind's eye's flower to that nice feeling in the location you've recognized and let the feeling expand with the flower. I believe this may be similar to Buddhist practices of visualizing a radiant Buddha image or deity.
Breath and feelings match
A new one I'm working with that's very similar to above but instead of a flashy visualization it focuses more on simply observing the breath in association with the feelings. The feelings I'm referring to are usually somewhere in the chest or belly region so some attention there while breathing is necessary. While breathing be sensitive to those feelings and how the breathing relates to them. Find where in the breath cycle the feelings grow in pleasantness and follow/track that pleasant feeling with the inhales and exhales and pauses.
My Breath Friend
Build a sort of relationship with the breath like a good friend you're always glad to see. Be at ease whenever they're with you and they will be more often.
Through practicing of quick-relaxing the head, face, and neck muscles (like when in seated meditation), remaining relaxed for a few moments, typically mood settles and one-pointedness grows.
Why am I holding this?
An old boss of mine told me people will often take what you hand them if you engage them in conversation simultaneously and then be left wondering why they're holding it after you've walked away. Modifying this with some Buddhist influence to be sensitive to holding unnecessary thoughts and feelings in the mind, such as the impressions people and experiences leave on you after they've left, and setting down anything unnecessary you're still holding.
There is suffering and there is also an end to the suffering.
There is the thought(woe is me) that leads to suffering.
Is the thought permanent or impermanent?
What if you allow the thought to end?
How would you feel without that thought?
Why are you NOT able to let that thought go?
We could stay inside the box
But sometimes go right back or outside the dharma.
For example I have a good knowledge of the major arcana of Tarot. Yesterday I combined Tarot meditation into my sitting.
High impact can involve very difficult or conflicted areas but we must be committed and balanced enough to not be overwhelmed.
If we look for a pattern or template to cover ignorance, we will find or make it. In a strange way ignorance can be a source of wisdom. We are not here to flower a following but to flower our Buddha unfolding …
Every practice is high impact Buddha …