Updated: Jan 31
Daily Life Mindfulness
Our daily life can be divided into 2 aspects to help us to understand what type of mindfulness to be applied and how it can be practised.
Work includes housework, if you're a homemaker. Unless your day involves manual labour only, you're likely required to think. Most work include a mixture of thinking and doing. But some profession requires more thinking as part of its job.
Here's the challenging part.
When there's thinking involved, as you must since it is your job, the mind is taken in - it's caught up with it during these hours. Can practice still be applied during these moments or is it a lost cause?
All is not lost. Practise mindfulness of the present moment.
Mindfulness of present moment at work
How to do it?
Anchor the mind to your task in the present moment. It's that simple. Is it easy?
To be mindful is to be clearly and non-reactively aware of the object. While working, your present moment object should be the task at hand.
Strictly speaking, it's impossible to only have thoughts of the present especially about work matters. The principle here is to limit thoughts to the present task and those that are necessarily related to it.
For instance, while gardening you might notice you've no more fertiliser and you thought, "I'll get it later". Then the next thought arises, planning. Then, maybe what else to get while running that errand. If you're not mindful at this point to bring the mind back to the present task, a shopping list starts to type itself in your mind. As the list goes on, so is the worry, impatience or uneasy feeling. This is so because the mind wants to get it now but couldn't get it now. This is how thinking rules the mind, producing stress and all other troubles.
Why do it?
Mind connects, in various ways. Connecting is one of many things it does.
Lets take a look at a common work scenario.
You're working hard, churning out accounts, contracts, designs or whatever you're doing in your profession. Your back starts to hurt because you've been sitting too long. Your attention is now grasped by pain in the back.
If you've trained to bring out mindfulness to connect with kindness, then thoughts of self care will arise - it is time to stretch, walk about for a minute - maybe make yourself a drink or whatever is suitable in that moment.
But, if the mind is isn't mindful, the old habits run the show. The next thoughts connected to pain will arise, "This client is so demanding, wanting things yesterday but paying so little, etc.."
According to the Buddha's teachings on mind, there are many reasons that influence how the mind connects. One of these, is through similarities. Typically, an illwill thought pulls up another type of illwill thought. Often, it is also because of habits.
In this case, dislike of the back pain pulls out dissatisfaction. When this grows, guess what? You quit. Then what? You experience dissatisfaction in the next job too! So one goes job hopping to escape dissatisfaction (pain). It seems the fault is always on something or someone else, yes? It is not entirely the job - yes, some jobs can be more demanding than others, but primarily, it is the mind.
Take care of the mind.
By being mindful of the present moment, the mindful mind will notice when it gets tangled up in thinking. Bring out discernment, knowing if it's necessary. Intentionally letting go of unrelated and unnecessary thinking, especially those that produces stress and emotional pain. Keep the mind in the present moment.
When the mind is anchored in the present moment over a period of time, stress and anxieties will be reduced. Not only that, the mind will start to feel calmer. Because during this period, un-beneficial thinking is being kept in check.
Joy arises easily when the mind is calm.
Cultivate new connections that brings about well being so that these new connections become new mental patterns. Such connections include mindfulness connected with loving-kindness, appreciation, gratitude, compassion, charity / service, ethics and knowledge.
This may be work related, a household chore or simply leisure. Here's a typical list of such daily activities: housework, washing your car (does anyone still do that these days?), gardening, stretching, taichi, yoga, pilates, leisure walks, even running and swimming.
Mindfulness of present moment in daily activities
How to do it?
Because these activities don't require you to be fully absorbed in thinking, the choice present moment object are body postures, movements and body sensations.
In doing our daily activities, anchor the mind to the body posture, movements and other sensations.
Why is it good to anchor the mind to the body postures and movements in the present?
The mind anchored to the present moment through body postures and movements, disengages the mind from 'thinking' to just being. As a result, the mind will feel less restless and calms down more. Restlessness disturbs and agitates the mind. It's its nature. When restlessness is reduced, the mind sleeps easily and you'll have better quality sleep too.
Practise disengaging from thinking that are unrelated and un-beneficial. Take care of the mind by keeping thinking related to the daily activities, as much as you possibly can. :)
Mindfulness of present moment is most beneficial while driving ;) Keep the mind present. When driving, drive safely, please.
Summing up why is it beneficial to practise mindfulness of present moment in daily life?
Because it is a way to take care of the mind. For Wisdom Meditators - this is a good way to keep hindrances at bay.
Uplift the mind beyond concepts - Wisdom Meditators
Mindfulness in daily life doesn't develop the perception of ultimate conditioned realities and therefore, will never lead to Wisdom. While it still brings about well being and a secular mindfulness practitioner may be content with this, a Wisdom Meditator must go further.
A Wisdom Meditator must also train the mind to perceive and anchor it to the ultimate conditioned realities, in formal practice and daily life, when it's suitable.
Outside of retreats, formal practice and where it's not suitable to take ultimate conditioned realities as the mind‘s object in daily life, then you have to maintain the practice through mindfulness of present moment in daily life. This is done with the Knowing that, it's a way to keep hindrances in check in daily life. If this part is left unruly, you'll have a lot of clearing to do during formal practice.
If your practice covers these grounds, then progress in Wisdom Meditation in daily life or outside of a retreat becomes possible.
As with taking up any new practice or creating new habits, setting an intention - be willing to do, is very helpful. But before that, one needs to appreciate the value in the new ways before one feels determined to do it. This appreciation won't arise unless you experience its benefit.
So, take a leap of faith and take one small step each day. More importantly is, take note of all the small differences you feel with each small step. That will keep you going and before you know it, a way of life is established.
Best of all, mindfulness in daily life is just a shift in mental focus every now and then. If you know how, there's no more reasons not to try ;)
There are other aspects of daily life where practising mindfulness with Knowing of suitability and purpose will also help to manage hindrances - for instance, eating, shopping/budgeting and interactions with others. There's also Mindfulness connected with kindness, Mindfulness connected with appreciation and gratitude. All these will have to be for another post / note.
Until then, take what resonates and do what you can. Take care and see you in Group Practice.
Much metta :)
Directing the mind to the ultimate conditioned realities in daily life if it’s suitable (coming up)