Saturday, July 16, 2011

Five Easy Ways to Derail One's Mindfulness Practice

How easy it is for the mind to rationalize not practicing, or practicing less and less!

Outer circumstances have made it a bit more challenging for me to sit every morning as I usually do. Lots of stress, many balls to juggle, some difficult people to deal with . . . There has been objective reasons for why I have not be sitting so diligently, or for less time. 

Ever resourceful mind has found ways to maintain the illusion of ardency in my practice, even using trusted teachings to lend credibility to my waning practice. One can only be deluded for so long however! At some point, more and more self-created unhappy thoughts creep in, and the extra-suffering opens the door to clear seeing. 

Minding the ways that one can so easily slip out of mindfulness practice:

The first one:

"I can practice all the time. No need to sit." (Andrea Fella)

The second one:

"No need to wait for the timer to ring. I can just let the sitting unfold, naturally. Ending when the mind calls for it.'' (U Tejaniya)

The third one:

"Sitting, walking, standing, swimming, driving, cooking, talking . . . no difference. All opportunities to practice, just different activities." (the Buddha)

The fourth one:

"Short times, many times." (Mingyur Rinpoche)?

The fifth one:

"I am going through an emotional storm. Reflection, not sitting is what is called for during this time." (Ayya Khema)

Notice the half-truth in all these thoughts. Hence the danger. The reality is yes, these are all accurate. And they also do not dispense one from the unavoidable practice of sitting still for long enough every day. Training the mind, leaving it enough time to settle to clearly see the hindrances, the true nature of life unsatisfactoriness, the emptiness . . . 

Guarding the mind from itself.

What are some of the ways that you slip out of practice?


  1. "guarding the mind from itself", yes. reminds me of Jiyu Kennett's (OBC) comment, "The mind makes a good servant, but not a very good master."

  2. Yes, training the mind to become a good master, (almost) always at the service of greater happiness, for oneself and those around us . . .

  3. I always put other things above my practice. "I'll just do this, and this, and this, and THEN I'll sit." Doesn't happen that way. I need to re-prioritize

  4. Yes, the pull from external stimuli is just too strong. Best, I found, is to sit FIRST thing upon waking up, before the senses have had a chance to be mobilized.

  5. What a great reminder, and so very true. I find that some days, I have left my pracitce, and only sit when I teach. My family and daughter have been what derails me. And I DO have a ton of time to sit even though I am a mother. Again thank you for the reminder.

  6. Recognizing one's struggles with practice is the first step, isn't it. Sharing it with spiritual friends is the second step. Then, comes taking action . . .

    Tonight, I am sitting with my local sangha at the Insight Meditation Center :)

    How about you?