Got a few questions about mindfulness in daily activities.
- Do u do "it" (active/semi-active mindfulness)
- How do you it
- What are your experiences
- What are your opinions
I'll give my recent experiences. I have been reading a few Cheri Huber books ( an accessible laid back soto zen priest, but still straight to the heart). One of her approaches is counting breaths from 1 to 10 and back again. I tried this, can't get much past 4 or so. Now I don't see this as a problem because with my Shikatanza practice I let go of any expectation of what I should be "achieving" (being able to count breaths to 10 and back again), let go what the "feeling" of what this practice should be and just try to come back again and again to the practice.
The experience is similar to one (amongst the many) vipassana techniques. I learnt this one off a burmese monk where one keeps attention to the breath (try to keep focus on the rise and fall of the belly). The technique was - Whenever the mind gets distracted or a feeling is attached to, a sankhara (don't know the zen equivalent) is grasped or where the mind moves to a sensation (mental also) then to be aware and observe what is going on. So here I am counting my breaths whilst I am working and my mind moves to something (sensation, memory, work task worrying) and with benefit of my shikantanza practice I try to remain aware of the event (or observe without clinging onto or moving onto discursive thinking or if already in discursive thinking then letting go of that discursive thinking) and go back to counting the breath. At the same time I notice that now my breath is responding by consciously trying to be calmer and smoother though I am not actually trying to do this. This does give me some base level of mindfulness and I know with shikatanza practice to try to remain in this moment and accept whatever is going on internally (letting the forces arise and subside without clinging onto them or being averse to them).- which is in manner that is both very quietly and very subtlely liberating.
However I can only do this consistenly when I am sitting down at work and not at other tasks such as walking, talking, doing physical work, exercising, hanging out with friends and especially when I am at home with so many distractions (where I seem to get into a craving mode, trying to do the next thing that will bring me more and more comfort and never being fulfilled on a permanent equanomous level).
After doing zazen - shikatanza with open eyes (ie. sitting with eyes 2/3rds to 3/4ths closed), there is a quality of "knowing the experience" that you bring to daily life. I think this is because you know that whatever you experienced whilst sitting applies throuhgout life no matter what, the same properties are there all the time. However, I know next to nothing about soto zen's approach to mindfullness in daily life (except from Cheri Huber's point of view). Did Dogen have something to say about this. Does soto zen have an approach - either from the ancient past or an approach developed in more modern times.
Anyway, if anyone has anything to add, please do.