This week, we opened our contemplation to include the experience of thoughts and emotions. This is an immensely rich area to investigate. And I hope you enjoy these reflections.
- “The mind is not our own, but we’re still responsible for it anyway,” says Sayadaw U Tejaniya. This statement acknowledges the out-of-control nature of the thinking mind and yet refers to how we become more accountable to the unpredictable content of our mind as the meditation unfolds.
- We now practice in a way that opens the awareness to include the experience of our thinking and emotional lives so that we can comprehend the true nature of what a thought or an emotion really is. We don’t practice to go to war with thoughts or to eradicate thinking.
- When we’re not mindful or aware, our tendency is to be completely lost in the assumed validity of our emotional and thought expressions. When we unconsciously identify with thoughts, we are literally trapped within the distorted view that these concepts represent.
- With awareness, we start to see through the content of the thought/emotion and we see the thought as process – simply as a momentary event in consciousness, arising and passing away, without any intrinsic power.
Basic Instructions, Part II:
- Begin by relaxing and allowing the mind to receive the sensations of the breath.
- As the mind establishes some stability in the present moment, allow that relaxed presence to open and broaden, quietly observing all experiences arising within the present moment.
- The rule of thumb is to be aware of the most predominant aspect of your experience, moment by moment.
- The awareness is now inclusive of the full spectrum of experience, including physical sensations other than the breath, such as thoughts, emotions, sounds, etc.
- In particular, become interested in the process of thinking, itself, observing what happens to a thought each and every time you become aware of a thought.
- Remember to practice with no agenda whatsoever. We’re not going anywhere, or becoming anything other than what we already are. We’re simply training our awareness to see our experience as clearly as possible so that a correct orientation to that experience can then be established.
- Be on the look-out for the Five Hindrances: Desire, Aversion, Sleepiness, Restlessness and Doubt. When not seen, they propel us around like a puppet… but when we become aware of their presence, they are just like any other mind-state – inherently empty.
- Add another five minutes to your daily sitting practice for a total of 10.
- Choose one activity that you do on a regular basis (ie. making coffee, brushing your teeth, starting your car, etc.) and practice being as mindful as possible for that one activity in daily life.
- Make an investigation of a mind-state that feels most problematic. Apply Rodney Smith’s RAIN formula (Recognize the state, Accept and allow the state of mind, take Interest in the state of mind, Non-identification – don’t make a ‘me’ out of the state).
Dharma talk by Sharon Salzberg on the Five Hindrances, found here.
Originally published on August 10, 2010