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Thread: Practice vs mindfulness

  1. #1

    Practice vs mindfulness

    I had an interesting experience today and would like some insights from others. My mate and I visited a friend today who gave my mate a gift. Trying to be mindfull of my own emotions I started looking to make sure i wasn't feeling envious or any varient thereof. I was so focused on trying to identify my emotions and thoughts that i became less focused on the world around me, my mate asked me about the colour of some cars we just passed and i couldnt tell him what they were. Really reminded me of how easy it is to slip out of mindfullness. Has anyone else had similar issues and how does one focus on something while still being fully mindful of the world around them? Any techniques or ideas? Thanks
    Gassho
    David
    Sat/lah

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by serenewolf View Post
    I had an interesting experience today and would like some insights from others. My mate and I visited a friend today who gave my mate a gift. Trying to be mindfull of my own emotions I started looking to make sure i wasn't feeling envious or any varient thereof. I was so focused on trying to identify my emotions and thoughts that i became less focused on the world around me, my mate asked me about the colour of some cars we just passed and i couldnt tell him what they were. Really reminded me of how easy it is to slip out of mindfullness. Has anyone else had similar issues and how does one focus on something while still being fully mindful of the world around them? Any techniques or ideas? Thanks
    Gassho
    David
    Sat/lah
    Very simple: l don't even bother to try to be "mindful" like you describe most of the time. What could possibly be the purpose of that? Of course, not good to be envious of someone if that can be avoided, but what is the import of noticing or not noticing the color of passing cars?

    Where did this idea of "mindfulness" like that come from, and what could be the possible benefit? lt seems like a very annoying, artificial and narrow way to try to live. lt does not make one more alive than one already is. Look, just live ... sometimes noticing the color of the cars and sometimes not (of course, mindful enough that, if driving, one does not crash into a bus while pondering envy or trying to notice all the colors of the passing scene).

    Traditionally, in Buddhism, mindfulness had no such meaning, and even for the Zen folks, there is a time to be "one with the moment" and a time not to.

    l wrote another little piece about this one time. Actually, l think that this kind of "mindfulness" is something of just a modern fad.

    So, don't worry, just go home and enjoy being with you mate.

    Being mindful of 'mindful'
    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...ful-of-mindful

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    Great topic David. I sometimes wonder about this. I find that certain articles seem to represent mindfulness as an almost super human attentiveness to every thing. It sounds exhausting. Luckily I have tended towards a definition of mindfulness that is more centred on my own thoughts and actions.

    After ten years of apprenticeship, Tenno achieved the rank of Zen teacher. One rainy day, he went to visit the famous master Nan-in. When he walked in, the master greeted him with a question, "Did you leave your wooden clogs and umbrella on the porch?"

    "Yes," Tenno replied.

    "Tell me," the master continued, "did you place your umbrella to the left of your shoes, or to the right?"

    Tenno did not know the answer, and realized that he had not yet attained full awareness. So he became Nan-in's apprentice and studied under him for ten more years.
    I often reflect on this story when I find my own mindfulness drifting. Did I remember to lock the door? Is the kettle still on? What did my wife say I should remember to do at 4pm? The forecast said it was going to rain, why did I leave home without grabbing my umbrella?


    Tairin
    Sat today and lah
    Last edited by Tairin; 06-16-2019 at 02:44 PM.
    泰林 - Tai Rin - Peaceful Woods

  4. #4
    Thank you for the insights. The story of the umbrella that Tairin speaks of is where i realized it could be good to pay attention to details I would have otherwise missed. To me this is an area where i can practice strengthening my mental abilities. That said The link and post of Jundo has also given me insight that this can be an occassional practice, not a full time focus. Knowing that multitasking isnt always a bad thing and how to use it properly is helpful. Thank you.
    Gassho
    David

  5. #5
    If I start reading something and the word 'mindful' comes up, I usually exit. What is mindful? To me its just another trendy word they've thrown at us to keep up with the latest fad. These are the people who think "zen" is some kind of relaxation technique or something. A few years ago at my job, my supervisor started throwing at us we should all be more mindful. This guy had the attention span of a flea by the way. Mindfulness, zen shampoo, zen soft drinks, yeah, whatever.

    Gassho
    STlah
    James

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by James View Post
    If I start reading something and the word 'mindful' comes up, I usually exit. What is mindful? To me its just another trendy word they've thrown at us to keep up with the latest fad. These are the people who think "zen" is some kind of relaxation technique or something. A few years ago at my job, my supervisor started throwing at us we should all be more mindful. This guy had the attention span of a flea by the way. Mindfulness, zen shampoo, zen soft drinks, yeah, whatever.

    Gassho
    STlah
    James
    Yes, but no. Thich Nhat Hanh's Miracle of Mindfulness may be the first common use of the term, which has been co-opted to mean slightly different things. His book was published in 1975. While if you follow his program all the time, you end up being a sort of buddha-bot, but as an occasional exercise, like a retreat, or a part of a day, it can be very useful.

    It's probably the influence of Jon Kabat-Zinn that led to the term becoming a fad, but the main ideas of Thich Nhat Hanh are certainly valid.

    Gassho,

    Kirk
    I know nothing.

  7. #7
    Its been years since ive posted anything, so hello again!

    In my experience, its not necessarily knowing the colors of the cars, but rather knowing i dont know the color of the cars, if that makes sense

    Sat today

    Steve


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  8. #8
    Hi Steve,



    That makes sense.

    There are times to be mindful, times not. In my own life, this week, I took my daughter to a playground, and realized that my mind was other places instead of playing with her. I was thinking about work and the world. I caught myself, and in that time came back to the playground, to playing with my daughter, no before or after, no other place to be. Work and the world could wait. This was the time for play alone.

    After a time of playing, we left the park, and I happily went back to think about work and the world and 1000 other things. No problem too. This was the time for that.

    So, a time to be mindful, a time to just not be so mindful. No problem.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  9. #9
    Thanks Jundo!

    Also, ive been a little behind on the news, but as one cancer survivor to another, hope you are healing up ok!




    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by aksteve View Post
    Thanks Jundo!

    Also, ive been a little behind on the news, but as one cancer survivor to another, hope you are healing up ok!




    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Doing good Go for my 18 month check next week. I hope same for you.

    In the hospital bed, I was just as mindful and not mindful as always.

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc View Post
    Yes, but no. Thich Nhat Hanh's Miracle of Mindfulness may be the first common use of the term, which has been co-opted to mean slightly different things. His book was published in 1975. While if you follow his program all the time, you end up being a sort of buddha-bot, but as an occasional exercise, like a retreat, or a part of a day, it can be very useful.

    It's probably the influence of Jon Kabat-Zinn that led to the term becoming a fad, but the main ideas of Thich Nhat Hanh are certainly valid.

    Gassho,

    Kirk
    Kirk,
    OK, I agree. Mindfulness can be a valid thing if taken seriously. I just get a little weary when it gets used by some annoying hipster because its the new buzzword or some supervisor who makes me sit in a room and listen to some unqualified windbag tell me how to be more mindful.

    Gassho,
    James

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by James View Post
    Kirk,
    OK, I agree. Mindfulness can be a valid thing if taken seriously. I just get a little weary when it gets used by some annoying hipster because its the new buzzword or some supervisor who makes me sit in a room and listen to some unqualified windbag tell me how to be more mindful.

    Gassho,
    James
    I whole-heartedly agree. Words and ideas can be used for good or for profit.

    Gassho,

    Kirk
    I know nothing.

  13. #13
    While I agree it sounds exhausting to be mindful in all moments, this conversation does bring to mind the following quote from DT Suzuki which I have recently discovered and tried to shoe-horn into every subsequent situation:

    The truth of Zen, just a little bit of it, is what turns one's humdrum life into one of art.
    While I don't have to be mindful, it's nice to know even in the most mundane moments I can remind myself of the beauty of life, and there's art in that.

    Gassho,

    Neil

    STLaH.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc View Post
    I whole-heartedly agree. Words and ideas can be used for good or for profit.

    Gassho,

    Kirk
    Couldn't agree more with everyone talking about this. "Mindfulness", meditation, yoga, and other things have really been hijacked in recent years by big business. Not only do many look at it as a way to increase productivity of employees and thus profits, but some seemingly look at it as a way to make their employees more docile and able to deal with the work conditions (rather than adjusting the actual work conditions) - it gets reduced to a form of stress management the employees "should" be doing shifting the responsibility to the individual employee rather than the company to make changes to the work conditions. I saw this at my previous company put into use/misuse. Company morale was low so they began pushing mindfulness, pranayama (breathing), meditation, yoga, exercise, and nutrition as the solution all while continuing to place more and more pressure on the employees to meet added quotas and take on extra job roles/tasks.

    One concern I have for this use of these practices in this way is that it may discourage people newly exposed to these terms and practices. If any of those practices are implemented incorrectly or performed half-heartedly/forced then those employees may feel "this doesn't work" "this is pointless" and be pushed away from ever attempting sincere practice. For those not exposed personally other than hearing about this "fad" on television or other media may write all practice off as "dead" when the "fad officially ends" in the media. The more it's misused in this manner the larger the "fad" of that use is and the harder the fall and greater the effect of the fall.

    Gassho
    Kendrick
    Sat/LAH

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Doing good Go for my 18 month check next week. I hope same for you.

    In the hospital bed, I was just as mindful and not mindful as always.

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    Glad to hear it! All stable here as well!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  16. #16
    After ten years of apprenticeship, Tenno achieved the rank of Zen teacher. One rainy day, he went to visit the famous master Nan-in. When he walked in, the master greeted him with a question, "Did you leave your wooden clogs and umbrella on the porch?"

    "Yes," Tenno replied.

    "Tell me," the master continued, "did you place your umbrella to the left of your shoes, or to the right?"

    Tenno did not know the answer, and realized that he had not yet attained full awareness. So he became Nan-in's apprentice and studied under him for ten more years.


    I remember in a Ram Dass presentation, he talked about spending a very long time meditation at an isolated center. During an interview, the teacher asked how he thought he was doing, and Ram Dass said he thought he was doing very well. The teacher asked, "tell me, when you fell asleep last night, was it on an inhalation or an exhalation?" Ram Dass realized he had overestimated his progress.

    While this story sounds like the stuff of spiritual legend, when I heard it, I thought how exhausting it must be to lie in bed and try to be present enough to know whether you've fallen asleep on an in-breath or an out-breath. Who could possibly relax enough to actually get to sleep? Sounds like self-imposed torture to me. I prefer to concentrate when concentrating and wander when wandering. What's better than standing in the shower, consciously letting your mind wander?

    Shinshou (Dan)
    Sat Today

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Kendrick View Post
    Couldn't agree more with everyone talking about this. "Mindfulness", meditation, yoga, and other things have really been hijacked in recent years by big business. Not only do many look at it as a way to increase productivity of employees and thus profits, but some seemingly look at it as a way to make their employees more docile and able to deal with the work conditions (rather than adjusting the actual work conditions) - it gets reduced to a form of stress management the employees "should" be doing shifting the responsibility to the individual employee rather than the company to make changes to the work conditions. I saw this at my previous company put into use/misuse. Company morale was low so they began pushing mindfulness, pranayama (breathing), meditation, yoga, exercise, and nutrition as the solution all while continuing to place more and more pressure on the employees to meet added quotas and take on extra job roles/tasks.

    One concern I have for this use of these practices in this way is that it may discourage people newly exposed to these terms and practices. If any of those practices are implemented incorrectly or performed half-heartedly/forced then those employees may feel "this doesn't work" "this is pointless" and be pushed away from ever attempting sincere practice. For those not exposed personally other than hearing about this "fad" on television or other media may write all practice off as "dead" when the "fad officially ends" in the media. The more it's misused in this manner the larger the "fad" of that use is and the harder the fall and greater the effect of the fall.

    Gassho
    Kendrick
    Sat/LAH
    Dosho Port link for new book critiquing Mindfulness Movement. Pretty much along the lines of what Glenn Wallis is exploring at 'Speculative Non-Buddhism'.

    https://www.patheos.com/blogs/wildfo...tm_content=119

    Just to say I read Thich Nhat Hann's book 'Transformation and Healing - a commentary of the Sutra on The Four Establishments of Mindfulness' and found it very good - a mile away from the dumbing down sometimes found in self-help Mindfulness literature. In my humble opinion it is one of TNH's better books because it encompasses the whole of Buddhist ethics/practice and Buddhist psychology.

    Gassho

    Jinyo

    sat today

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Kendrick View Post
    Couldn't agree more with everyone talking about this. "Mindfulness", meditation, yoga, and other things have really been hijacked in recent years by big business. Not only do many look at it as a way to increase productivity of employees and thus profits, but some seemingly look at it as a way to make their employees more docile and able to deal with the work conditions (rather than adjusting the actual work conditions) - it gets reduced to a form of stress management the employees "should" be doing shifting the responsibility to the individual employee rather than the company to make changes to the work conditions. I saw this at my previous company put into use/misuse. Company morale was low so they began pushing mindfulness, pranayama (breathing), meditation, yoga, exercise, and nutrition as the solution all while continuing to place more and more pressure on the employees to meet added quotas and take on extra job roles/tasks.

    One concern I have for this use of these practices in this way is that it may discourage people newly exposed to these terms and practices. If any of those practices are implemented incorrectly or performed half-heartedly/forced then those employees may feel "this doesn't work" "this is pointless" and be pushed away from ever attempting sincere practice. For those not exposed personally other than hearing about this "fad" on television or other media may write all practice off as "dead" when the "fad officially ends" in the media. The more it's misused in this manner the larger the "fad" of that use is and the harder the fall and greater the effect of the fall.

    Gassho
    Kendrick
    Sat/LAH
    Originally, in early Buddhism, the purpose of "mindfulness" was very different. It was not to relax, feel peace and feel at home in this life. Rather, it was to notice impermanence, the falsity of the sense of self, and to realize nirvana whereby one would escape ever having to be born in this world again. It is really only in modern times that lay people, in Asia and the west (Goenka, Thich Nhat Hanh, IMS and others are part of this modernizing reinterpretation via the twists they put on old teachings), took an interest in meditation in order to relax and feel peace in this life. Personally, I don't think that is a bad development, because we Zen folks have always been more comfortable in this world, and the possibilities for realization in this life, than the South Asian Buddhists. However, I still believe that the point of our practice is much much more than just relaxation. It is to realize (satori) our "True Nature" and to see through the "great matter of Birth and Death." Truly. Zen is not a stress reduction class. Peace and stress reduction are just a side benefit. In fact, the ultimate "stress reduction" is satori, to experience one's True Nature and to see through Birth and Death.

    Second, Buddhism has always catered to the surrounding economic system. It had too. Buddhism has always depended on donations from lay people to build the monasteries and keep the monks fed. Those lay people, since the Buddha's time, have always included many powerful people, rich people, land and farm owners, merchants and the like. In exchange for their donations, Buddhism offered many things to make those donors feel better in their lives, e.g., ceremonies to bring them good health, business prosperity and the like. In Japan, many lay people who are company employees sit Zazen before heading to the office. Nishijima Roshi's main donor to support his translation work was a cosmetics company where the owner was a devoted Buddhist, so asked Nishijima to lead the employees in weekly Zazen training. In turn, the company funded Nishijima Roshi's Zen center where he trained so many people. Few Buddhists attacked the surrounding economic system, perhaps because they still believed deep down (like the early Buddhists) that this world cannot be fixed, only seen through and transcended (nirvana, satori). Zen Buddhists in the past also trained samurai to be better soldiers, and tended to spend more time with powerful people than to be concerned for the welfare of the peasants. Anyone who rocked the boat would find their temples burned down, and the priests banished or disrobed by the rulers. That is the case all through Asia, from Thailand to Tokyo to Tibet. Very very few (some) Buddhists of the past were real social reformers.

    So, what is happening now with "Mindfulness" being used to make better employees and better soldiers is not entirely a new thing.

    That said, many modern Zen and other Buddhists believe that our Precepts and Vows to "rescue the Sentient Beings" call on us to be concerned with society, not merely to ignore or transcend it. The following is an article (with a excerpt from the book that Jinyo mentions) on how "McMindfulness" is doing exactly what Kendrick describes. It is a long article, but I can almost summarize in one sentence: Meditation is being used to make people more comfortable as workers in a system which is the real problem, and tries to convince people that their "stress" is their own problem to solve through yoga and meditation classes when, in fact, the real problem is the "rat race" that this economic system is creating. i think there is a lot of truth in that. I think that "Zen" is often used the same way.

    https://www.theguardian.com/lifeands...box=1560509014

    For that reason, I am happy that people sit Zazen and feel some peace and stress reduction. However, I would also like them (1) to realize their "True Self" and the great matter of "Birth and Death, and (2) not forget the problems with this society and economic system, and try to do what can be done to make it more just.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-18-2019 at 06:05 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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