FEATURES OF MINDFULNESS
FOR DAILY LIFE
Three Important Aspects of Mindfulness
Five Powers of Mind
Going Beyond the Limits of Mindfulness
Noble Eightfold Path for politicians, business community, military and others
Mindfulness of Eating
How to Make a Good Cuppa Tea. 15 easy lessons
What is Mindfulness? 26 Definitions.
Three Important Aspects of Mindfulness
MINDFULNESS OF THE PAST
Seeing the primary conditions leading up to an experience in the present.
Making the necessary changes in the conditions if there is suffering in the present
MINDFULNESS OF THE PRESENT
Seeing the present. Being mindful of any judgement made about the present.
Being mindful of being judgemental about the present.
Acknowledging the different perceptions, views and experiences of the present.
MINDFULNESS OF THE FUTURE
Seeing that perceptions of the future connect with the actual condition of the present.
Be mindful of views of the future influenced with positive and negative feelings, hopes and fears.
Experiencing a vision in the present that brings about a worthwhile direction into the future.
Five Powers of Mind
All five powers of mind have equal importance.
All five powers influence each other
If you experience one or more as weak for you, then explore ways to strengthen
Develop all five as a vehicle to wake up and stay awake.
1. TRUST (Confidence, Faith to Act)
Develop the ability to initiate an activity and sustain it despite various challenges along the way. Trust reveals itself in the capacity to take risks, explore fresh ways to make things happen, recognition of patience and not be afraid to make mistakes.
Develop the ability to be mindful of general issues and details. Mindfulness acts as a safeguard from taking anything for granted or neglect of further change and development.
Develop the ability to stay single pointed on an initiative in the short and long term. Concentration is the coming together of focus, interest, priority and dedication.
Develop the ability to create and conserve energy to develop an initiative. The conservation of energy occurs through skilful use of thought, speech, body, diet, exercise, outdoors, love and interest.
Develop the ability to apply ethics, meaningful values, the other four powers of mind and attend to outcome/consequences/results of actions. Experience, listening, learning and knowledge contribute to wisdom.
Going Beyond the Limits
Mindfulness belongs to a body of teachings and practices around ethics, depths of clarity and a liberating wisdom.
·Proponents of mindfulness need to find the appropriate language to refer to mindfulness in is relationship to the body of teachings.
·Proponents need to make clear in very explicit ways that mindfulness focusses on the conditions for suffering, naming them and changing them.
1.Angry responses in meetings
Those who feel passionately concerned about unresolved issues may show frustration and anger at meetings. There is a kind of mindfulness ‘police’ who reject passionate voices in groups because such people are ‘not mindful.’
Mindfulness leaves no stone unturned. We can avoid addressing difficult issues because we know it be uncomfortable for others and ourselves. It takes a creative initiative to touch on issues that cause suffering.
3.Change in priorities
Mindfulness practices address control issues, pressure to make profit, tax avoidance, obsession with production and efficiency at the expense of employees and customers/patients.
Ethics shows itself in relationship to people, animals and the environment. State ethics in an explicit way rather than let ethics go unmentioned whether on the treatment of workers, to use of resources to recognition of needs, near and far, tax avoidance, environmental exploitation and much more.
Lifestyle contributes to stress, anxiety and exhaustion. What changes do you need to make? It is not enough to apply certain mindfulness methods and techniques to resolve stress.
Science and Neuroscience engages in research into mindfulness/meditation and its relationship to the brain. There is no single definition of mindfulness. How can one engage in scientific measurement of mindfulness with several definitions? Mindfulness also relates influences of our behaviour – for better or worse.
Pharmaceutical industry employs scientists to conduct tests on meditators to develop medication to bring about the same results. The medication will become a form of control and generate side effects.
When the mind reduces obsessing around roles, personal success, income and possessions, it becomes receptive to the sense of the spiritual – in nature, religion, the arts, meditation, a sense of the infinite and much more.
Mindfulness of what really matters to us. This might include an inquiry into purpose, direction, moderation of lifestyle, empathy, respect, starting meaningful change and an active vision.
Noble Eightfold Path
for Politicians, Business Community,
Military and others
1. Right Understanding/Right View
This is the individual and collective exploration/reflection/inquiry of the four truths, namely there is suffering, the variety of causes and conditions that bring about suffering, the resolution and the way to resolve. It would require mindfulness consultants and practitioners to address the whole ethos of any organisation to establish wisdom and compassion in that organisation from top to bottom and dissolve the poisons of the mind. That would be a major undertaking.
2. Right Intention/Attitude/Purpose
This is an unwavering commitment to a non-injurious way of life. It means addressing every aspect of greed, aggression and delusion among employers and employees to ensure a fundamental change of intention and attitude.
3. Right Speech/Communication
It is to speak, as the Buddha said, what is “true and useful” leading to right understanding. It is to speak honestly and fearlessly about the inner and the outer necessities to change harmful policies that always employ distorted and manipulative speech for selling purposes and marketing of goods. Right speech includes an end to the slagging off of thoughtful critics and competitors, as well as end to putting down the poor and the marginalised.
4. Right Action.
Deep ethics govern action to show a real care for people, whether working in factories in poor countries. Ethics ensure a change of use of chemicals and other substances used in products and action that harm people. Right action is a constructive engagement with life not a destructive one. Respect takes priority over personal or company gain. Right Action brings an end to the variety of corrupt practices, avoidance of paying taxes, money laundering, the obese lifestyles of executives, exploitation of the trust of customers and suppression of information.
5. Right Livelihood
The Buddha rejected any livelihood causing harm and suffering to people, animals or environment whether feeding addiction (such as the tobacco industry), manipulation of consciousness through certain advertising campaigns, production of harmful chemicals and systematic destruction of the environment. Authentic mindfulness generates inner and outer change touching on the conscience of the individual and the collective with the willingness to work with integrity regardless of the personal cost.
Right effort implies a creative energy to develop and maintain what is beneficial (such as all eight links to establish a noble way of life) and to overcome and abandon all what obstructs a noble way of life.
7. Right Mindfulness
Sati (the Pali word for mindfulness) implies present and past. It is the capacity to look at the present, look at the conditions leading up to the present and make clear judgements in accordance with the spirit and letter of the Eightfold Path. Mindfulness belongs to the eightfold path just as the arm belongs to the body. Mindfulness has the capacity to track circumstances, to see and follow what is unfolding and be mindful of consequences, effects and fruits of action. The practitioner develops the capacity to stay steady, clear and calm in the present as well as see the relationship of past, present and future.
8. Right Concentration
Samadhi, the Pali word for concentration, includes genuine depths of meditation, a knowing of deep happiness and inner peace showing true wealth is within, a unified mind and a capacity to stay concentrated on every link in the Eightfold Path as the true expression of one’s dignity as a human being.
A noble human being lives with dignity and genuine freedom. It is a joy to hear very occasionally of a hedge fund manager, a Monsanto employee or a soldier take real steps to live a noble life after participation in a mindfulness course. He or she knows that they have liberated themselves from enslavement to a political ideology, to corporate ambitions or the military objectives of the army. These transformations do happen in mindfulness programmes. But it is rare.
Mindfulness and its Limits
Integrity and dignity matters far more than the ambitions of the nation state, the desire for corporate supremacy, the craving to maximise profit and influence or the determination to subjugate others to a political/military ideology. I shook my head in disbelief when I read that mindfulness “almost subversively intends to create much greater transformation toward wise action, social harmony and compassion.”
To such claims, I would respectfully ask: “Show me the evidence of a political party, a single corporation or army unit that has truly transformed itself in terms of action, workers/families’ rights and compassion due to a mindfulness course in the past 30 years of mindfulness programmes.
A US based conference in titled Wisdom 2.0 conference on mindfulness in business held for 2000 business people including mindfulness coaches, executives, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and technologists in the business world, had the subtitle “How do we live with greater awareness, wisdom and compassion in the digital age?” We can only but applaud the theme but from a Dharma standpoint, it would require such a root and branch change in business as the Noble Path makes clear. Certain consultants and coaches in the mindfulness industry need to be mindful to not hype mindfulness beyond its station.
Mindfulness programmes certainly make a wonderful contribution towards the reductions of stress and pain for the individual. The mindfulness practices, methods and techniques contribute to a culture of calm and co-operation. I feel incredible appreciation to all the mindfulness consultants, coaches, trainers and therapists who give such support to people at home, in the office, in hospitals, civilian and military, prisons, schools as well as abbots and teachers in Buddhist monasteries and retreat centres.
We must remember that it is not within the remit of mindfulness programmes to question the modus operandi of the corporations who employ the services of mindfulness consultants. Buddhists and activists need to be clear on this point.
We cannot expect such consultants to help change a single core belief of a company.
Yes, mindfulness belongs to a path of inquiry, of examination of causation for suffering, of awakening, of compassion which leaves no stone unturned. It is an eight-fold path not a one-fold path (mindfulness).
MBSR and similar programmes reduce personal stress. That is the remit of MBSR. Its authority is tied to that. MBSR states honestly what it does. That is to its credit.
Activists, scientists, social critics, educationalists, researchers, journalists, Dharma teachers and numerous others have the responsibility through inquiry and insight to get to the roots of the matter of suffering, as the Buddha advocated, and inquire into any level of corruption of mind. It is unreasonable to expect mindfulness teachers offering a course to a company to have the skilful means to investigate the underworld of big business.
Let us address to our best capacity the entire path, the inner and the outer.
Our life is short. We may never be back. If we do not work to change the inner and the outer, there may be nothing left to come back to or nothing much left but a hell realm for future generations because we said nothing, wrote nothing and did nothing.
Together, we have the capacity to experience the destruction of stress through dedication to ethics, a caring mindfulness in actions, great and small, knowing the emptiness of ego and associated political, corporate and military ideology. We have the capacity to know a liberating wisdom and a dedication to the welfare of others, near and far.
MINDFULNESS OF EATING
I will reflect wisely on the food that I eat.
I will reflect on the process of much involvement worldwide to ensure food is on the table.
I will endeavour to eat that maximises protection for everything with a face - namely animals, birds and fish.
I will eat for nourishment, for health and for sustaining the life of the body. I will not pursue different foods just for pleasure at the expense of health and environmental concerns.
I will eat with moderation and guard against getting heavy.
I will leave space in the stomach for the food to convert itself naturally and easily into energy.
I will eat mindfully and respectfully, whether alone or with others.
I will reflect on what goes into my mouth and be mindful what words and attitude come out of my mouth.
In the company of others, I will speak on subjects which nourish and benefit others.
I will practice mindfulness so that I do not lose myself in conversations around likes and dislikes, good and bad, better or worse.
I will regard diet as an important aspect of a spiritual path to support a life of healthy living.
I will consider a wise and thoughtful diet as an important contrition to being at ease with myself, at ease with others, animals and the countryside.
I will chew the food well so that it is virtually a liquid by the time I swallow.
I will find time for silent meals free from any distraction to eat mindfully and respectfully to this daily activity.
Various friends, often internationals, come and visit me at home in Totnes, England.
They kindly offer to make a cup of tea. Well intentioned. No training in making a cup of tea. No idea. Bless ’em.
They think you pick up a teabag, drop it in a cup, and pour some hot water on it. Then add some milk (preferably oat milk, soya or coconut milk) and maybe sugar. Oh dear, oh dear.
Drinking a good cuppa tea is a form of mindfulness practice, a ritual, a sacred ceremony, a spiritual practice. There is an art in preparing a cuppa.
In Britain, if there is a crisis, we first put the kettle on to make a cuppa tea – equivalent to holy communion.
I recently switched from teabags to loose tea. I read initially that the first tea bags fell apart when hot water was poured onto the bag. So, chemicals were added to the tea bag to strengthen them. I finally had a reason to switch to loose tea.
It is not easy to find packets of loose tea in UK shops. Buy loose tea from small tea companies. Support your small companies. Small is beautiful.
Differences in taste in tea are as great as tastes of different wines.
Most tea in the UK comes from Sri Lanka and India. I am currently using Miles West Country Tea to make tea.
Twelve Steps to Make a Good Cuppa Tea.
Reflect on how the tea arrived in your packet. Seeds, plantations, workers, factories, transportation, businesses and shops.
Use a teapot. Cheap ones often found in charity shops
Boil the kettle
Pour some hot water into the kettle to warm it up and throw away the water
Put one spoonful of tea into the pot for every person
Boil again the kettle
Pour boiling water into the pot (very important). Pour equivalent of up to one and a half cups of hot water for each person
Wait three to five minutes for tea to brew in teapot (very important).
Use a spoon to stir tea in pot clockwise, stir seven times and one for luck
Pour milk (if used) first into cup rather than last. Tea will then stay hotter at the top
Pour tea into the cup. You made need a tea strainer
Pour tea slowly, stop for a moment, pour again and stop, to ensure strength of tea.
Add more hot water, if cup of tea is too strong.
Enjoy the taste
WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?
The Buddha engaged in the regular application of Mindfulness in his teachings. The Pali word for Mindfulness is Sati. His teachings on mindfulness serve as the primary inspiration for the teachings on mindfulness available in the West and elsewhere in the world.
Sati conveys remembering what leads up to an experience or situation and the presence of the experience or situation. There is no English equivalent to the word sati.
Translators have adopted the word Mindfulness.
I have endeavoured to offer these definitions below which, I believe, reflect the Buddha’s application of sati and his use of the word.
Mindfulness applies equally to being and doing, internal and external world.
Mindful sees what arises, stays and passes.
Mindfulness applies equally to being and doing/action.
Mindfulness contributes to inner steadiness when faced with difficulties.
Mindfulness embraces the general and the specific, the bigger picture and the detail.
Mindfulness shows intention, action and result. Mindfulness can spark the response to what is.
Mindfulness includes the art of total listening to discern what is valuable and insightful.
Mindfulness is a single limb in the body of total awakening.
Mindfulness is a mental faculty and a power of mind to develop.
Mindfulness is the start to transform self-centred pursuit of pleasure, negativity and fear.
Mindfulness can lead to wise judgements and prevents the manipulation of our attention.
Mindfulness of kindness and wisdom of others contributes to expressions of appreciation and gratitude.
Mindfulness refers to four applications, body, feelings, states of mind and Dharma.
Mindfulness refers to our capacity to see what is happening.
Mindfulness can reveals a clear comprehension of change, initiated or not.
Mindfulness reveals what is common between self and others.
Mindfulness can help guard against falling prey to selfish desire, exploitation and indifference.
Mindfulness serves as a step towards overcoming grief, despair and pain.
Mindfulness contributes to a genuine sense of responsibility for what we know.
Mindfulness with inquiry examines causes and conditions for suffering.
Mindfulness supports other means to reduce stress, anxiety and physical pain.
Mindfulness, awareness or clear attention can mean inter-changeable concepts.
Right mindfulness includes wholesome intentions to inquire into suffering.
The Buddha distinguished right or healthy mindfulness from harmful mindfulness.
The Buddha said: “Mindfulness is applied to the extent necessary in order to abide without needing to lean on anything in the world” – either inwardly or outwardly.
Wholesome intentions give support to mindfulness to inquire and change situations, inner and outer, personal and institutional.