Ordinary Daily Life
An Offering of Dhamma
Not to be sold.
The Buddha’s Basic Advice:
In the Discourse on How to Establish Mindfulness, there is the
following section on Clear Comprehension:
A meditator when moving forward or backward is clearly aware of
what they are doing; when looking ahead or behind, clearly aware
of what they are doing; when bending, stretching … when carrying
things , clearly aware of what they are doing; when eating, drinking,
chewing, savouring … when passing stools or urine …
when walking, standing, sitting, falling asleep and waking up …
when speaking or staying silent, they clearly aware of what they
That is, whatever the meditator is doing, that is what they must
be mindful of.
In other words, the sitting meditation is only a part of the practice
as a whole. The Buddha wanted us to develop a meditative life. To
know what we are doing at all times. A life of fulltime awareness.
The danger for meditators is to raise the sitting meditation practice
to the position of a magical ritual as if all we needed to do was
a little sitting in the morning and in the evening (perhaps) and
liberation from suffering is assured. Too often meditators think
sitting meditation is the be-all and end-all of the Path. I once
met a meditator because of this. He had been tremendously ardent,
spending months in intensive meditation only to come out and live
the 'good life'. After years of this so-called practice, achieving
very little in terms of inner peace, he had achieved little but
sorrow and despair. He felt the five years of so he had spent on
the meditation practice had been a great waste. So, it is this dependence
on meditation sitting as the one and only practice that leads to
disillusionment and disappointment. Eventually the meditator may
abandon the practice altogether as useless! So sitting meditation
is only part of the Buddha's path, though undoubtedly necessary.
The Middle Path
The rules that guide the monastic life show clearly that the Buddha
wasn't teaching simply a meditation practice but a way of life,
a way of living day to day. The Middle Path is a description of
how life as a whole should be led by someone eager to attain liberation
from all suffering. This Middle Path in its broader aspect means
not to fall prey to sensual pleasure, not to over-indulge in sensual
delights. Nor should we believe that self-mortification such as
long fasts will bring us anywhere nearer the goal. Moderation in
all things! Secondly, that we should be careful not to transgress
the basic moral laws for this produces harmful affects for us and
for others. Thirdly, that we should make great effort to improve
ourselves by the practice of the Perfections. This is all put as
the Four Great Efforts of the Eightfold Noble Path - to eradicate
existing unwholesome habits and practices, and not to allow any
new ones to establish themselves; to introduce new wholesome ways
of thinking and behaving and to develop what wholesomeness we already
Starting the Day
As an aid to this growth and as a part of the meditation, we need
to bring Right Awareness and Right Concentration right into our
daily lives. This is what a lot of meditators find very difficult
and confusing. So, let us see what meditation in daily life might
mean. The day really begins with how we have slept for we often
wake with the mind that fell asleep. If I'm depressed or angry before
I go to sleep, sure enough the same emotions will overtake me when
I wake or soon after. Therefore, we need to fall asleep in a meditative
way so that at least any negative frames of mind are weakened and
positive ones reinforced. So we should try to go to sleep with the
mind in meditation. Just gently placing the attention on the process
of breathing or observing the sensations in the body caused by our
state of mind. Alternatively, a good practice is to review the
whole body, starting at the top of the head and slowly working our
way down to the tips of the toes, observing all the sensations on
or in the body. Alternatively, following the instructions on how
to practise Metta, put a loving thought in the heartmind and repeat
over and over again. At some time, it is also important to make
a firm resolution to wake with the alarm, to set the mind to wake
up. The alarm is only an aid. So that when we wake, we can sit
up quickly and observe the mind, catching the first mood of the
day and developing that watchful attitude. Once the mind is clear,
we can make the next firm resolution not to let a moment of the
day pass in mindlessness. All effort will be put into achieving
continuity of awareness. Resolute determination plays a significant
part in the meditative life. It is, in fact a Perfection to be
developed. We don't have to become neurotic over breaking them.
We need to see such resolutions as attempts to recondition the mind.
Remember the Buddha's teaching that will is Kamma. We need to strengthen
the will, to make it strong enough to carry through our skilful
decisions. For instance, getting up that little bit earlier to
do the regulation forty minutes or better one hour meditation is
very difficult at first, but if we persevere a new habit will be
established. You may also find as so many meditators do that the
more mindfulness is maintained, the less sleep is needed. So we
start the day with a decision to develop continuous awareness. We
resolve, we determine to do it and eventually we will achieve it
to a fairly high degree.
Deliberately Purposefully Intentionally
What form does continual awareness take? Firstly it is awareness
of all the tasks we normally complete in a day, especially the normal
ones, the habitual ones. The ones we would normally do on automatic
pilot. These range from brushing the teeth, to drinking a cup of
tea, to routine tasks at work. Anything manual and physical needs
to be done with awareness. Done deliberately, purposefully, intentionally.
Even closing drawers, opening cupboards should be done as if for
the first time. A good technique to bring mindfulness to bear in
our mundane tasks is to do them just a little more slowly and with
careful deliberation. Another is to repeat the action that was
done mindlessly. This sort of practice brings calmness and equanimity
into our lives. This is more easily done if we approach all actions
and tasks as if they were ceremonies, as if we were doing them clearly
aware of what they are doing in front of someone we respected. I
often like to imagine the Buddha himself just sitting somewhere
unobtrusively in the room. How mindful I'd be if he really were!
Drinking tea is a national habit if not neurosis, but it can so
easily be turned into a real meaningful act. Instead of rushing
through the preparation, filling the kettle up with the tap full
on, splashing water everywhere, banging the kettle down, plugging
it in, grabbing the cup and saucer, banging the cupboard door shut.
Same routine at the fridge for the milk. Pouring the boiling water
into the pot as quickly as possible. Tapping your fingers, eating
cake, gulping it down while we wait for it to brew. And then, what
we've been longing for all along, in two short gulps the tea's gone.
Our minds here, there and everywhere. Not actually tasting a drop.
Two, three cups go down and not a single drop is truly tasted.
The whole fandango is finished of with a hurried wash up. No wonder
we forget whether we've had a cup of tea or not! Doing all this
mindfully, deliberately, carefully, taking one’s time, drinking
the tea as if for the first time in our lives, lifts this ordinary
mundane activity into a meditative exercise which not only increases
our mindfulness, but fills that moment with order and beauty. In
Japanese culture, this sort of idea produced the famous and beautiful
Tea Ceremony, but it runs like a motif through a lot of how the
Japanese behave, even to the ceremonial bowing before martial arts.
To us, it might seem a little over the top, but if we do ceremonise
our lives, we shall see it beautifies all our actions.
The Art of Listening
The second area we need to look at in our daily activities is our
relationships and communication with other people. Again it is
especially the usual, the ordinary, the habitual communication that
needs to be de-robotised and made meaningful. We have to observe
how we are communicating with our spouse, children, friends, people
at work, neighbours, and compare this to the attentiveness we devote
to what the boss says or to the diagnosis of the doctor. We need
to cultivate the art of listening.
When we listen attentively, giving our whole attention to what
is said, we also become aware of the opinions and conditioned responses
in our own minds. Sometimes we can achieve a concentration in
our listening so that these are subdued. For listening to someone
means to hear what they're saying as if for the first time. If
this is really happening, there will always be a break before a
response while the mind assimilates what has been said and thinks
of an answer.
Too often our conversations are fencing matches. My concern is
to get the other to acknowledge what ‘I’ am saying and
to get ‘that’ person to agree with ‘me’.
The other person is doing exactly the same. There's no listening
to what the other is actually saying, only as to how it affects
'my' position in the so-called 'discussion'. No wonder there are
so many misunderstandings and mistaken assumptions.
When we converse with each other, there's no need to respond immediately.
What is really needed is to be truly aware of what the other is
saying. In counselling, there's a technique used by a counsellor
to show the client that they have understood what's been said. To
show the client they’ve really been listening and also to
find out whether in fact they’ve understood the client's situation.
At the end of the client's complaint or explanation, the counsellor
will say something like: ‘so what you’re saying is
...’ It is always a wonderful moment when the client's face
brightens up and relaxes.
Finally, someone who's really listening to what they're saying.
Someone who's understood. We communicate to understand each other.
To know each other better. At deeper levels, it’s sharing
experiences, supporting and comforting. This is all impossible
for someone who can't listen. Such a person always starts from the
wrong premise and usually puts a foot in it. Listening is an art
and the base line of any relationship. People, who can't listen,
can’t relate. To listen properly is to be fully aware of
what the other is saying and feeling.
Creating Space 1
The next important practice, once we are clear of what it generally
means to be aware in our daily activities and relationships, is
to create a space. Our society with its accent on time passing,
punctuality and dead lines, creates a rush, a race. Everyone’s
running every which way. Everyone's speeding. If you can do four
jobs at once, that’s good. Five, that's better. No wonder
there's so much pressure about, so much stress. So much straining.
No wonder the greatest killers are heart failure, blood pressure,
strokes and so on.
According to Buddhist psychology, only one consciousness arises
at one time. The human mind is capable of doing only one thing at
a time. You can't be conscious of two things at the same time.
We think we are. When we sitting the cinema, we seem to experience
all the five senses at once. We see the film. We hear the music
and dialogue. We taste the ice cream, smell the smoke and feel
uncomfortable in our seats. We seem to be in bath of sensual pleasure
all at once. But actually, each consciousness, arising at vast speeds
no doubt, is aware of only thing, one incoming sense data at one
time. I am either seeing the film, or hearing the sound track or
eating the ice cream and so on. But such is the speed of consciousness
and such is the higher power of the mind to relate and integrate
all this that I believe it is all happening altogether, all at once.
But we have been fooled, just like the celluloid film tricks us
into believing we are seeing one continuous action and not a set
of individual frames. So the important rule to establish in the
meditative life is to do one deliberate action at a time.
Of course, there are many things that have now become automatic,
such as walking. Here we are discussing those actions that take
deliberation, that have to be done with a certain amount of awareness
or thinking. Walking is normally automatic, but it isn’t if
we're crossing a high, narrow mountain ridge. Then we are very
much aware of how we are walking. And if when this walking ought
to be a conscious activity, we decide to look at the scenery, we
shouldn't be surprised to fall off. Here we are concerned with deliberate
action, actions that need our attention.
In the morning, for instance, we might find ourselves eating our
meusli and cornflakes, talking to the family and reading the gas
bill all at once. No wonder we feel confused. That things are
getting on top of us. At work or at leisure, it is good to organise
the tasks ahead, but accept limitations, accept the reality of what's
actually happening. Don't be confused by thoughts of what ought
to be happening.
Suppose the day is very busy and full of interruptions. If we now
view these interruptions not as disturbances and nuisances, but
simply accept them as the next thing to be done, we shall free ourselves
of a lot of anger and frustration and stress. Suppose I'm doing
some written work, filling out forms or something and someone approaches
me for information. When they 'interrupt' me, with’ excuse
me' all I need say is, 'I'll be with you in a moment'. In that
moment, I recollect where I am with the work I'm doing. To be aware
is to remember. Then I turn to the questioner and devote myself
to that request. Once the request is answered, I note I have completed
that task and go back to the written work where I have left a marker.
No disturbance. No anger. No stress. Just moving from one job
to another, creating a small space to recollect. If the person
approaching is full of stress and bother, I don’t become involved
in that. I keep my attention to the problem and reassure the person.
It's the same in a family of children, all jumping up and down
for attention, just when poor old mum and dad were looking for a
bit of peace and quiet. What an opportunity to train! This way
of working, one job at a time with a small space in between, makes
for concentration and efficiency.
Creating Space 2
This small space has also another important function. It stops
the accumulation of emotional states. Missing that alarm in the
morning and over sleeping, Jack suddenly wakes up and realises he's
going to be late. Panic. From that moment there's a world-shattering
rush to get to work on time. The morning wash at top speed, water
and soapsuds everywhere. The breakfast is shovelled in, scalding
tea gulped with a yelp. Jack then legs it to the bus stop and spends
the ride tapping his fingers and biting his lip. Or driving like
a madman, swearing at friend and foe, prepared to run over man,
woman and child, cats and dogs. Finally, he arrives at work. Is
that the end of the panic? Of course not! Whether he's late or
early, he has set the pace for the day. The whole day becomes a
phrenetic onslaught with rush, anger, frustration, anxiety, stress
and so on. At the end of the day, his only comfort a bottle of
aspirin or worse!. All this has now, of course, stopped. For Jack
is an expert meditator. Now when he's late, he notices the sense
of panic and anxiety. But he doesn't respond. He talks himself out
of rushing, accepting the fact he's late. He puts effort into concentrating
on what he's doing. He may move faster, but not wilder. When he
gets to work late he accepts this fact and realises that from now
on there's no need to keep up the faster pace. He relaxes back
into his normal routine. No anxiety, no frustration, no angry outbursts,
no rush, no stress. This technique of letting our reactions to events
subside is of paramount importance if we want to cultivate a general
state of calmness. This technique is enhanced by self reflection.
This is the process of self-monitoring throughout the day. But
not the self-monitoring of a Big Brother, full of do's and don'ts
and oughts and shouldn'ts, but of a nurse who is caring for their
patients. It is simply a matter of recording the state of play
and deciding on action to remedy or enhance the situation. Just
as a nurse takes a constant temperature reading and acts appropriately.
This is another way of stopping emotions and moods from snowballing.
Now Jill, Jack's wife, got to work this morning, early enough,
but feeling tired and depressed. As soon as she walks in, her boss
says something she didn't like at all. She gets angry about it.
All morning she is alternately, depressed, tired or angry. She angry
about being depressed and depressed about being tired and tired
of being angry. When she goes for a break, everything irritates
her. She's really miserable and her colleagues ignore her. Now
sitting on her own, depression is fuelled with self-pity. Her only
consolation is to go home, shout at Jack, and the kids, kick the
cat and lock herself into a room, sulk and in really bad times take
Jill, however, is now an expert meditator too. She has learnt
the technique of living with moods and emotions, of existing peacefully
with them. She develops a friendly attitude towards them, one of
acceptance. She still suffers from depression, but now she acknowledges
it as a fact, as a result of past conditioning. She tries to feel
it as it really is. She decides that though the depression is going
to hang about, probably make her less efficient, her energy and
attention will be directed to the job in hand, to communicating
with people, to raising the will to be helpful, open and friendly.
By doing this she knows the depression won’t dominate her
life. She knows there wont be reactions to it, like anger and self-pity
and anxiety. It may remain all day, all week, all month, all year,
but her attitude to it now is as to physical pain, backache or headache.
She's not going to let it highjack her life. She knows these sorts
of attitudes are allowing the depression to lose steam, to lose
energy. She knows she is reconditioning herself, re-educating herself.
It's hard work. It's painful. But every so often she feels that
the depressions are passing away just that little bit quicker, that
they are never quite so deep, that she is no longer so suffocated
by them. The moods, once so solid, now seem more soft. She feels
a general lifting towards calmness, peace and joy.
The Inward Glance
Unfortunately, the Buddha neither discovered nor offered a quick
magic cure. It's all hard persistent work. Jill knows that this
technique, based on awareness, has to be regular and constant.
She trains herself into the habit of the inward glance. Moving
from room to room means opening and shutting doors. In that small
moment, that break in closing the door, she pauses to look inwards,
take stock and lets go of whatever mood was built up in the room
she's left. She clears her heart and mind, returns to an equilibrium.
Walking down corridors and up stairs, during tea breaks and natural
breaks, she sees in them all occasions for this gentle self-monitoring.
This continual effort to let go of negative states of mind. This
continual effort to establish self-awareness. And then the turning
outwards to being aware of all that is around. Jill knows now from
personal experience that keeping this awareness, making these sorts
of decisions, leads to equanimity and clarity of mind. Her depressions
come and go, but she's no longer depressed by them. In time even
her depressions will pass away.
An extension of this continual process of self-monitoring which
is simply a way of being in touch with ourselves and of getting
to know ourselves better is to keep a diary. There are many ways
to keep a diary, but the purpose of keeping this diary is to heighten
one's self-knowledge and to use it to encourage oneself in spiritual
training. Writing can often get things off your chest. Writing
about an occasion that upset us, we can ask, what was it that actually
got me upset. Why did it do so? Was it a rational response? Did
the response help the other, the situation, me? What would be a
better response in the future?
For instance, I knew someone who was having problems with his child.
He talked about how unruly and angry the child was. As he talked
he happened to mention that he often got quite angry with the child.
When we discussed it, it occurred to us that maybe the child was
simply reacting to his anger and even modelling himself on his father’s
behaviour, as any dutiful child should! A lot of the problems passed
when he changed his behaviour. Perhaps if he had kept a diary, he
might have been able to make this connection between the child's
behaviour and his own before it became a problem.
The Tough Nut
Now that we have established as it were, a basic disposition towards
daily life, we can be more proactive. We can take the offensive.
Wean search for techniques which will enhance our lives the more.
The first one is to tackle the Tough Nut. Everyone has a habit
or personality trait they would dearly love to lose. It could be
a strong habit such a smoking or a social nuisance such as a loud
voice or always opinionating. The first is to make the resolution
to change. Then we need to use our self-observation techniques and
here a diary is very useful in order to observe when, where and
with whom the habit is likely to occur. As we come to know the
occasions of the habit, we can form strategies, firstly so that
we are not overcome by the habit and secondly so that we can undermine
its hold on us.
My father used to be a heavy smoker, forty cigarettes a day and
the full-blooded, thick tar stuff. He used to sing in a choir,
but had to stop for continual sore throats. The doctor even then
(this is over sixty years ago mind!) advised him to stop smoking
if he wanted a long singing life. He did. And he hit the habit
where it hurt most. The one cigarette most difficult to abandon
was the one after lunch when he would sit and relax and perhaps
doze. Since he came home for lunch, he decided instead of smoking
and instead of getting irritable with others, he'd take it out on
the piano. Not only has he never smoked since, but he also became
a dab hand at the piano. This is positive action. It hurts. We've
got to work at it. But it does work!
What are the factors involved? Firstly that insight into the
harm of any particular habit. Then the resolute determination to
change. Then the strategy. And most important, the prize! Always
make sure there's a present at the end. My father returned to the
choir he loved.
But its not only against our negative side we must take the offensive,
we need also to put energy into the better sides of our personalities.
Firstly we need to set the mind onto positive from the first moment
of the day. After the morning meditation practice, Metta should
be practiced. Metta means goodwill, benevolence, open-heartedness,
kindness, care: a universal, impartial love. Again it is by making
this inner decision, talking to oneself, suggesting to oneself a
better way to be, convincing oneself, that the ground for resolute
determination is established. By setting the mind at goodwill,
once negative states have been allowed to pass, that goodwill will
automatically arise. This goodwill then stands as barrier to any
habitual negative responses such as anger. It allows the heart
to feel things from the other’s point of view.
Now in this practice, it is very important to be able to offer
love to oneself. At first most people think this is selfish. But
actually it's self-care. It's the difference between cooking a
well-balanced meal for oneself, and spending £50 on a beef Stroganoff
a la nouveau cuisine. Knowing the difference between self-care and
self-indulgence is crucial to undercutting any feelings of hate
we might have towards ourselves. Just as we can care and comfort
others, so we can care and comfort ourselves. Just as we encourage
and support ourselves, so we should encourage and support others.
In this vein, it is good practice to take one of the Perfections
as a special practice.
Maybe it's patience. I'm impatient with others and myself. I'm
easily irritated and angered. So let this be my special practice.
As we develop one Perfection, we shall discover that the whole personality
is affected and all the other Perfections are also enhanced. Since
our personalities and relationships are all interdependent and interrelated,
this bettering of me inside myself will begin to better my relationships
with others, allowing others in turn to develop their relationship
Inclining towards Nibbana
So far we have talked on a psychological and social level. But
how does all this lead to spiritual insight, to the experience of
the supramundane, of what there is beyond the psychological and
the social, beyond the body and mind? This whole process, this
continual effort is all to do with purifying the mind. When the
mind is pure, the Spiritual Faculties can emerge and intuitive knowledge
arise. These faculties are confidence, effort, concentration, awareness
and wisdom. In fact, these faculties can come together at any
time whatsoever. That momentary concentration of these factors,
when they are all balanced is known as Khanika Samadhi. It is a
well-known phenomena in the scriptures.
A laywoman became Sotapanna on intuiting anicca, transience, in
the crackling of her baking bread. Ananda, the Buddha's attendant,
attained arahatship, while placing his head on the pillow to go
to sleep. A modern meditation teacher intuited anicca, the fundamental
impermanence of the universe, while watching a dog pass by. This
moment is beyond our personal control. It simply happens when all
the conditions are ripe. We don't have to worry about it at all.
It will arise of its own at any time, while doing anything. The
Nibbanic experience is beyond conditions and arises when the factors
conducive to its arising are mature. We cannot make it happen no
more than we can make ourselves forget something. It happens naturally
as a consequence of all our endeavours to train in the Perfections
and to remain mindful.
In this connection, let me add that to be aware and alert is not
necessarily to be self-aware. In Insight Vipassana Meditation,
once the concentration is high, all we know is the process of the
breath. Up until that moment we were aware of ourselves being the
objective observers. When that objective observer vanishes, and
all we know is the process of breath, then that is the sort of pure
awareness we need to achieve insight. This can't be brought about
by an act of will. The observer cannot make itself vanish. It happens
quite naturally once the concentration and focus are developed enough.
So it is in ordinary daily life. I might be doing a mental task,
such a writing a letter or physical task, such as mowing the lawn.
At first, since I'm trying to do the jobs mindfully, I might be
aware of myself. But as I give myself to the task, I lose this self-awareness,
awareness of a ‘me’. Sometimes when we’ve done
a job, we're amazed at how time has flown. It seems to have gone
like a shot. We end up cutting the whole lawn or writing the whole
letter perfectly and without once being actually aware of a ‘me’
doing them. They were just done. This is a highly developed state
of concentrated awareness and it is in such moments as these that
the Factors of Enlightenment can become developed and balanced enough
to give insight. No-one can manufacture this moment, because the
‘one’ means that self, that ego which is lost in such
moments. So don't try, just do!
At the End of the Day
So now we are at the end of the day. A good practice is to spend
sometime before falling asleep in bringing the whole day to mind.
Here, the diary is useful. Note all the times when mindfulness
was lost - when, where and with whom. See if anything can be done
to put right any unfortunate consequences of mindlessness if there
are any. If nothing can be done, then accept the consequences totally.
What's the point of worry and sorrow? Acceptance is all that is
needed and of course, the resolution not let such a thing happen
Recall moments of mindfulness, of joy, of friendliness, of handling
a tricky situation well. Congratulate yourself. Then bring tomorrow
to mind and determine to continue your efforts.
Finally, in bed, go to sleep with the mind rested, contented on
having done your best. What more can be asked. And gently follow
The Joy of Practice
So there we have it. The meditative life! Our objective, full-time
awareness, supported by the techniques of creating space, self recollection,
positive action and, of course, our sitting meditation which now
comes into its true role of training the mind to develop effort,
concentration and mindfulness.
It is recommended to practise vipassana early morning in order
to establish our centre for the day and in the evening to allow
any unwholesome emotions to be defused. Forty-five minutes will
do. An hour is better. But even ten minutes is better than none.
These silent times will nurture the whole day with their quiet awareness.
When we live the meditative life, our view of living changes.
To live is to experience. Life is no longer a sequence of successes
and failures. Life is no longer loaded with the heavy judgements
of good and bad, right and wrong. Since now we see life as experience,
we are looking at what is healthy, wholesome, skilful and getting
away from the unhealthy, the unwholesome, the unskilful. We need
to be athletes, training for the real marathon - life itself. For
most of us over 70 years and over difficult terrain! What is more,
each moment is not just the training, but the testing ground too.
The Buddha asked us to be an island unto ourselves, a refuge unto
ourselves. He wanted us to take the Dhamma, the Teaching, the Truth
as our refuge. We have within each of us the potential to achieve
the highest peace and joy. Not simply the joy and peace of a meditative
life, but that peace beyond peace - Nibbana.
His final advice was:
Everything is transient, work diligently
for your liberation.
Life is passing!
No time to faff about!
Our goals must be set.
All that's left is work.
So we'd better get on with it!
This is the real work of our lives.
The work of our own true liberation.
those meditators who delight in ever present
and look with fear upon heedlessness
are not liable to fall into unskilful behaviour
they are in the presence of Nibbana!
Establish Satipanya in Sitting Meditation.
Establish Satipanya in Ordinary Daily Life.
Develop the Perfections.
Be mindful of all activities, especially the habitual
- eating, toiletry, routine tasks
Do things a little slower and more deliberately
Be attentive to all communication, especially the usual
- partner, children, fellow workers
: no need to respond immediately
: when really listening, a pause occurs naturally
Sitting Meditation – Morning
Put real effort into the Vipassana
- especially the opening attempt to be concentrated
Be sure to spend at least five minutes developing Metta
Before you get up:
acknowledge any negative attitudes
resolve not to allow them to highjack you
develop positive attitudes especially to the disliked
choose a negative mental attitude or state you are going to 'let
go of throughout the day
choose a Perfection or virtue you wish to work on throughout the
e.g. practice patience towards some one
Do one job at a time
e.g. reading the mail in the morning, do it attentively and make
deliberate decisions about it rather than eating your meusli and
talking to the family while you turn blue over the gas bill
leads to – concentration
Pause between every task or event
do a task or what you can do of it completely stop! mentally
put the finished task aside create, if only for a moment, silence
allow the mind to settle look within and know the mental state then
bring the mind to the new task
Make a conscious intention
Then do it.
leads to – efficiency
After an event, allow the reaction to subside
e.g. if you miss the alarm and get up late watch your reaction
of anxiety and haste
if the reaction continues throughout the day, just know it is
there and carry on attentively
leads to - calmness
Self - Recollection
use the inward glance to know what state of mind you are in and
then respond a continual self-monitoring
stops moods and emotions from snowballing
find regular times in the day to practice this
opening and closing of doors
walking along corridors, up stairs
tea-break and natural breaks
leads to - equanimity and clarity of mind
The Tough Nut
everyone has a particular habit or personality trait they would
like to change or eradicate
study it as it occurs - when, where, with whom
find strategies to cope so you are not highjacked
Metta meditation, not just at sitting time
wait for negative moods to pass then direct Metta to the object,
person or self
constantly set your intention at 'goodwill'
This is a moment to moment state of concentrated intuitive awareness
- Satipanya - which is able to perceive ultimate realities. It can
come at any time as it did to one of the disciples of the Buddha
who, while attending to the bread in the oven, intuited the characteristic
of transience - anicca - in the crackling. We can't make this happen.
It happens naturally. It is the happy outcome of our effort to remain
simply mindful. When we are fully concentrated on our work and have
lost all 'self ' awareness, this also has great potential for spiritual
END OF THE DAY
Sitting Meditation – evening
make a special effort especially after a hard day
important in order to let go of the day's accumulations and ensure
Use a diary for reflection
write what comes to mind for 15 min. every evening don't think about
what you are going to write just 'splurge' and then put it away
don't read it after you have finished
at the end of a week, read all the writings and draw your
recall moments of mindlessness
note when, where, and with whom
note if anything can be done to put right
any unfortunate consequences
determine to do so
if nothing can be done
accept the consequences totally
recall moments of mindfulness
successes in dealing with tricky situations
and with negative states
determine to fulfill your goals tomorrow
determine to wake with the alarm
maintain mindfulness from that moment onwards
put your mind upon the breath or body sensations
or practice Metta
P U J A
I bow to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa!
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa!
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa!
Homage the Blessed, Noble and the Fully Self-Enlightened One!
THE THREE REFUGES
Buddham saranam gacchami
I go to the Buddha as my Refuge
Dhammam saranam gacchami
I go to the Dhamma as my Refuge
Sangham saranam gacchami
I go to the Sangha as my Refuge
Dutiyampi Buddham saranam gacchami... (repeat)
For the second time I go the Buddha.... as my Refuge
Tatiyampi Buddham saranam gacchami.... (repeat)
For the third time..... as my Refuge
THE FIVE TRAINING RULES
Panatipata veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
I undertake the training rule to abstain from killing any living
Adinnadana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
I undertake the training rule not to take that which
is not freely given
Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
I undertake the training rule to abstain from sexual
Musavada veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
I undertake the training rule to abstain from wrong
Sura meraya majja pamadatthana
veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
I undertake the training rule not to take substances
that cloud the mind
All conditioned things are impermanent
When this is perceived with wisdom
One becomes disenchanted with what cannot satisfy
Just this is the Path of Purification.
All conditioned things are unsatisfactory
When this is perceived with wisdom
One becomes disenchanted with what cannot satisfy
Just this is the Path of Purification.
All conditioned things and the Unconditioned are insubstantial
When this is perceived with wisdom
One becomes disenchanted with what cannot satisfy
Just this is the Path of Purification.[Dhammapada 20 v5-7]
Those meditators who delight in ever-present mindfulness
And look with fear upon heedlessness
Are not liable to fall into unskilful behaviour
They are in the presence of Nibbana.
All conditioned things have the nature to decay.
Work diligently for your liberation.
[Last words of the Buddha - Parinibbana Sutta]
I determine to make this day
a day of moment to moment mindfulness.
Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!
Offer worldly and spiritual blessing to:
someone whom you have warm regard for
those who are near and dear
friends, people at work, neighbours …
Having established metta, begin to radiate it outwards to:
all those in the room/house
all in the surrounds
the whole country
all people on earth
Putting a phrase in one’s heart which most expresses
the quality you wish to develop and share,
radiate it outwards to all beings in all directions.
Whatever the sitting posture, it should be comfortable and fulfill
three conditions - an energised spine with its natural curvature,
the rest of the body relaxed and the head poised on top. The hands
are placed on the lap and the eyes are gently closed.
Then the attention is fixed on the process of breathing - just
the normal and natural breath. It is the sensations at the abdomen
caused by breathing which are to be observed. And a noting word
is used to focus the thinking mind onto these sensations. As the
abdomen rises, the word 'rising' is repeated. As it falls, 'falling'.
And in the gap before the in-breath begins again, a feeling in the
body is felt and observed, using the noting word 'touching’.
When the mind is somewhat steady, the attention should be allowed
to observe whatever draws it within the field of awareness - sensations
and feelings, moods and emotions, mental images and thoughts. Using
a simple word to note and without any interference whatsoever, all
these passing phenomena are to be directly experienced and carefully
observed. Should the mind wander, let it be brought back gently
but firmly to observe sensations at the abdomen in order to cultivate
a sharp attentiveness.
In this way, right awareness with intuitive intelligence - SATIPANYA
- becomes established.
This bare attentiveness —
This choiceless awareness —
This impartial observation —
This intuitive introspection —
These VIPASSANA-INSIGHTS into the Three Characteristics of Existence,
impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and not-self - ANICCA, DUKKHA,
ANATTA - lead to the complete liberation from all suffering, the
experience of the Unborn, the Unbecome, the Uncreated, the Unconditioned;
Refuge, Harbour and Home; Perfect Contentment and Peace.
Those who are mindful are in the presence
SADHU! SADHU! SADHU!
Sit comfortably. Energise the spine. Sit tall. Let the rest of
the body relax. The head gently poised on top. Natural easy breathing.
If you change posture in a sitting, do so mindfully, slowly, noting
all the movements, or it will disturb your concentration. If you
find yourself sagging, put more energy into the spine. If the neck
or back begins to ache, check the posture, but also that you're
not putting 'wrong effort' into the practice, causing tension. You
may use a cushion or a meditation stool, but only those with physical
problems should use a chair.
. Breathing Process
Observe the rising and falling of the abdomen. Should you be concentrating
elsewhere e.g. at the nostrils, please make sure you receive instruction.
Concentrate on the exact beginning of the inbreath, stay steady
throughout the whole middle process and catch the exact end. Concentrate
on the exact beginning of the outbreath, stay steady throughout
the whole middle process and catch the exact end. In the gap before
the inbreath begins, become aware of a particular feeling or the
feeling of the whole posture and again concentrate on the abdomen
as soon as the inbreath starts again.
. Feelings and Sensations of the Body
Do not search for them. Allow them, whether from the outside (such
as hearing) or from the inside to draw your attention and
observe them with the same acute, energetic watchfulness with which
you observe the sensations caused by the breath process, using appropriate
. Emotions and Moods
These are felt in the body as feelings. As with all sensations,
note and observe them carefully.
. Wandering: Talking: Fantasising Mind
As soon as you wake from a daydream, acknowledge it with a noting
word and plunge into the body and see if you can feel the emotion
which is causing the restlessness of mind. If it is too subtle to
catch, then resolve to stay with the breath process. If the whole
day is spent doing this, it is not wasted. This is the training
we must do with calm but firm perseverance.
. Walking Meditation
Use the first 15 minutes or so as exercise, walking as fast as
you wish, noting - left ... right. Then begin to walk slowly, noting
- lifting ... moving ... lowering. Continue to slow down, noting
- lifting ... moving ... lowering ... placing. Return to the sitting
posture at a speed that will not undermine the strength of concentration
you've developed. Attention is to be placed on the feelings in the
foot. And don't forget to note the intention to walk and turn. If
you are going very slow indeed, note - intending to step - before
. Daily Activity
It is very important indeed to keep up continuity of practice and
to note your intention before doing anything is a powerful aid.
Then complete the action slowly and deliberately. The slower you
go, the more you will notice. This technique is a great aid to concentration
and mindfulness. Practice this all the time, even when opening
and closing doors, during toiletry and while eating.
Moment to moment awareness
is the secret of success.
The Mahasi Sayadaw
Discourse on Metta
If you are wise and want to reach the state of peace,
you should behave like this:
You should be upright, responsible, gentle and humble.
You should be easily contented and need only a few things.
You should not always be busy.
You should have the right sort of work.
Your senses should be controlled and you should be modest.
You should not be exclusively attached to only a few people.
You should not do the slightest thing that a wise person could blame
You should always be thinking: May all beings be happy.
Whatever living beings there are, be they weak or strong, big or
small, large or slender, living nearby or far away, those who have
already been born and those who have yet to be born, May all
beings without exception be happy.
You should not tell lies to each other.
Do not think that anyone anywhere is of no value.
Do not wish harm to anyone, not even when you are angry.
Just as a mother would protect her only child at the risk of her
So you should let the warmth of your heart go out to all beings.
Let your thoughts of love go through the whole world with no ill-will
and no hate.
Whether you are standing, walking, sitting or lying down,
So long as you are awake you should develop this mindfulness.
This, they say, is the noblest way to live.
And if you do not fall into bad ways,
but live well and develop insight,
And are no longer attached to all the desires of the senses,
Then truly you will never need to be reborn in this world again.
Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!
THE TEN PERFECTION
D A I L Y A F F I R M A T I O N S
1. May I be generous and be of service to others. (dana)
2. May I be morally correct and self-disciplined. (sila)
3. May I not be selfish and possessive but selfless
4. May I be wise and be able to give others the benefit
of my understanding. (panna)
5 May I be willing and energetic. (viriya)
6. May I be patient and quick to forgive. (khanti)
7. May I always be truthful. (sacca)
8. May I be resolute and keep my word (adhitthana)
9. May I be friendly, joyful and compassionate. (metta)
10. May I be calm and peaceful. (upekkha)
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