So, something became clearer to me this week. Distraction, craving, lack of mindfulness, etc, all have resistance as a source (notice I didn't say THE source . . . I'm not prepared to go on record with that). The previous thread re: mindfulness and its various interpretations and applications had me stumped a bit. I thought that mindfulness was important, but I must admit that until this week the concept of mindfulness always added a level of complexity to my actions when I thought about it. So, instead of getting closer to the present, trying to be mindful pulled me away from the moment and added another conceptual or idealistic level to my thinking. I assume that was part of Nishijima Roshi's objection to the concept. But now I see that resistance is the issue (at least for my particular neurological hardware/software combination). My resistance to most activities is a habit from childhood. Never wanting to miss anything. Always looking for the next flashy thing to entertain me. OK as a child--that's how we learn. Not so helpful in adulthood.
I see now that my habitual cycle is this:
  • Resistance to the current action arises in me because I enable thoughts such as. . .
  • I might be missing something better
  • I have too much work to do and I should be doing it
  • It creates physical discomfort

    Because I resist, my mind moves on to discussion about why I need to stop what I'm doing and get back to something that is better.

    If I fan the flames of those thoughts, the resistance increases, removing my attention further from the present.

I've found that the trick for me is not to try to be mindful. That doesn't work. What works is to simply stop enabling those thoughts. Cut off the fuel-supply. When drying my daughter's hair this evening (always lots of whining because of tangles and things), I changed my attitude to "there is no better place than this to be right now/there is nothing else that needs to be done right now/I'm not missing anything that is happening anywhere else because there is nowhere else." BAM! Everything else went away and there I was with hands in her hair helping her get ready to go to bed clean, dry and happy. Profoundly ordinary but profound nonetheless. Mindfulness doesn't require thinking, it requires the opposite of that . . . the thing we practice on the zafu: opening the clutching hand of the mind that squeezes these thoughts into hot little boils that make our lives uncomfortable. When your Mom said, "Don't squeeze that bump, it'll make it worse" she was right. Grabbing these thoughts takes us away from our lives into distraction and confusion.

Enough from me, I suppose.