The Skill-sets of Mindfulness
Being in a sense of process and progress
The practice and experience of mindfulness is based on the principle that you are aiming to be completely involved in a particular process which you have chosen. It is quite useful to think in terms of processes rather than tasks or a job. In addition it is useful to think in terms of any process you are involved with containing skill-sets which you can improve overtime.
The skill-sets of mindfulness
Doing a mindfulness meditation practice on the breath is a microcosm of developing particular skill-sets. The main skill-sets have to do with having a clear idea about what you want to do (experience the breath), becoming wholeheartedly directed towards it and engaging with it. Also, checking if your mind has wandered off and bringing it back. If your attention has wandered off, drop thoughts into the back of the mind like ‘Do this later’ or ‘not now’. When you drop the thought ‘I’ll do this later’ into the back of your mind rather than thinking it from the front of the mind, your mind is more likely to get it and stop nagging you about doing it. This skill-set can be adapted to many situations.
Finding the right level of effort
Part of the process here is to be aware of whether you start to push and force yourself in a way which opts you out of adjusting your effort as you go along. An analogy which can be helpful is of the accelerator in a car. As you become aware of your effort to come into the experience of the breath imagine an accelerator – are you pushing too hard?, too soft? or finding just the right amount of effort to keep experiencing the breath?
Patience and gentle persistence
To keep your mind focused on something specific like the breath without it jumping off randomly is by its very nature challenging . You are constantly exercising your patience and resourcefulness by staying in the process. It is an ongoing learning and development process and takes a certain amount of gentle persistence.
Asking yourself what helps
An ongoing question is ‘what helps here?’ and being committed to finding and following the answers. Very generally just blindly pushing forward or giving up doesn’t help. You are aiming to come up with remedies or actions which help you move forward and progress in the specific situation.
Vajradaka is one of the most experienced meditation teachers in Triratna and is continuously developing fresh approaches to maintaining and developing a vibrant meditation practice. He is known for easy to relate to ways of teaching which come across as clear, practical and relevant. He is a regular guest teacher on Dharma Night.