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Episode 11 Transcript: Mindfulness – The Bottom Line

Episode 11, 19 January 2015, Mindfulness – The Bottom Line. [11:11]

 

Intro: Welcome to Buddhism Guide’s Audio blog.

Episode 11: Mindfulness – The Bottom Line. [00:45]

1. Mindfulness.

  • People are talking a lot about mindfulness these days, but what is it that we have to be mindful of?
    • The answer is: Everything.
    • We have to be mindful of our actions and the impact they have on ourselves and others.
    • These actions will shape our lives now, and in the future.
    • So it is very important to be constantly mindful.
    • We have to be aware of our speech, of what we are saying.
    • We have to be mindful of our body actions, and be aware of their impact.
    • We have to be mindful of our thoughts, feelings and emotions.
    • We also have to be mindful of the work we do and its impact on society.
    • And of course, we have to be mindful of the effort we are putting in, ensuring all our actions of body, speech and mind, are all in line with living responsibly.
  • Mindfulness is not a process of doing something.
  • Rather, it’s a matter of doing nothing; and not judging, not manipulating, not planning, not wishing, not imagining.
  • All of these are just interferences, things the mind does to take control; but mindfulness is just watching and letting go.
  • In this process there is no need to cling at anything, so the mind stays anchored in the present and does not float back to the past with all its memories, or to the future, with its hopes and fears.
  • Gautama Buddha stated in various Sutras that there are Four Foundations of Mindfulness:
    1. Mindfulness of body;
    2. Mindfulness of feelings;
    3. Mindfulness of mind;
    4. Mindfulness of mental states.
  • So, let’s have a look at these four individually.

2. Mindfulness of Body. [02:45]

  • This means being aware of your body and all the actions carried out by it.
  • There are many different ways of contemplating the body, but a simple and effective one, is doing the full body scan.
    • Sit on a cushion with your legs crossed and back straight, or if this is not possible sit on an arm-less chair, ensuring your back is straight, but not too rigid.
    • Start by concentrating on your toes, are they relaxed or tense?
    • If they are tense, just relax them and release the tension.
    • Now move to your feet and do the same.
    • Slowly, move up your body, watching where the tension is, and releasing it.
  • In today’s world we always seem to be running from pillar to post, so this meditation will help you get back in tune with your body.
  • I’m sure you will be surprised at how much tension you are actually carrying around in your body.
  • On a day to day basis this means that whatever you do with your body affects you and everyone around you.
  • When you live responsibly, you have to be mindful of the unhelpful acts you do with your body, such as stealing, sexual misconduct and killing.
  • Each evening do a review and look back on the day and see what actions you’ve carried out with your body.
    • The ones that are conducive to responsible living should be noted.
    • This will ensure that with enough repetition they soon become spontaneous.
    • The ones that are not conducive to living responsibly should also be noted and a clear effort should be made to not do them again.
    • This can be done by rehearsing a better way to have acted.
    • So in the future you will naturally act in a different, more helpful way.
  • It is through staying mindful of your bodily actions that you will be able to live a more responsible life.

3. Mindfulness of Feelings. [05:03]

  • There are Three Types of Feelings:
    1. Pleasant,
    2. unpleasant, and
    3. neutral.
  • One of these three are present during every moment of our experience.
  • They may be strong or weak, clear or cloudy, but they are always present.
  • If we are not mindful, and leave our feelings unchecked, pleasant feelings can lead to clinging desire, painful feelings to hatred, and neutral feelings to ignorance and lack of compassion.
  • A good time to check your feelings is in the evening, when you look back on your day.
  • Think of an incident that happened that day, check to see what feelings it invoked in you.
  • Did it bring up pleasant, unpleasant or neutral feelings?
    • Don’t try and control the feelings, just be mindful of them, and then let them go.

4. Mindfulness of Mind. [06:10]

  • Mindfulness of Mind is looking at the mind as though you are looking in a mirror.
    • Ask yourself, how is my mind at the moment?
    • Is it full of desire, full of anger, full of ignorance?
    • Is it present in the moment, or distracted?
  • We should look at our mind in this way and just see it as it is.
  • Not pass any judgment or think of it as my mind.
  • We have to turn the mind upon itself and see if it’s associated with any of the Ten Unwholesome States.
    • If it is, do not cling to that, simply note it and let it pass.
    • Our minds, if left unchecked, can lead us into all kinds of situations.
  • This is why Gautama Buddha stated, that we should observe our minds, but not engage with what we see.
    • Just let it go.
  • We rarely stop and spend time on observing our minds.
  • We just let thoughts, hopes, fears and dreams come and go, unchecked.
  • During your evening review, observe your mind and see what state it’s in.
    • Is it tired, lazy, angry, happy or disturbed?
    • Note that state, but don’t try to change it.
  • In a guide to the Bodhisattva way of life Shantideva says:
    • Whenever I have the desire to move my body, or to say something, first of all, I should examine my mind, and then with steadiness, act in a proper way.

5. Mindfulness of Mental States. [07:55]

  • When we begin to be mindful of mental states, we start to see obstacles arise in the form of the Five Hindrances.
  • These hindrances are mental states that can lead us astray; take us away from responsible living.
  • The Five Hindrances are:
    1. Being gripped by desire;
    2. Feelings of ill will;
    3. Lack of interest;
    4. Restlessness, and
    5. Doubt.
  • It would be safe to say that we’ve all had days when we feel lazy or anxious and unable to stay focused.
  • There are other days when we are so consumed by our desires, we can’t even think of anything else.
  • Maybe, someone upset us the previous day, and due to our thoughts of ill will, we are unable to stay focused.
  • Of course there is also doubt.
    • If we carry around this strong feeling of uncertainty or disbelief, it is very difficult for us to concentrate.
  • During your evening review look at what hindrances have distracted you recently.
  • There is a lot of ground to cover here, so maybe it’s best for you to concentrate one week on the mind, another week on mental states, a week on body and finally, a week on feelings.
    • If you do this review, you will be able to see the hindrances that occur on a regular basis.
    • It is the antidote to these hindrances you have to concentrate on, and be mindful of.
    • Apply whatever antidotes are required to remove your frequent hindrances.

6. Right Mindfulness – The Bottom Line. [09:45]

  • This brings us to the end of Right Mindfulness.
  • If we are going to be Mindful, and Live a Responsible Life we have to be fully aware of, but not tangled up in, our bodies, feelings, minds and mental states.
  • By being mindful we’ll be able to take full responsibility for all our actions.
  • This will ensure that our minds become more calm and we travel through life in the present moment.
  • Not being tossed backwards and forwards from the past to the future.
  • Being mindful means being conscious of every thought, feeling, emotion, physical sensation, and action.
  • So, the bottom line is, become aware of the present moment, but not engaged with it.

Outro. [10:40]

  • You can find more information about this subject in Karma Yeshe Rabgye’s books at http://www.buddhismguide.org/books/
    1. The best way to catch a snake – A Practical Guide to the Buddha’s Teachings;
    2. Life’s meandering path – A Secular Approach to Gautama Buddha’s Guide to Living;
    3. Ripples in the stream – A Pragmatic Journey Through Gautama Buddha’s Teachings.
  • They’re available now, from Amazon and Kindle.
  • Thank you for listening, and I hope you enjoyed Buddhism Guide’s audio blog.
  • Until the next time, remember: “The only person we can ever truly know, is ourselves”.

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