-_sometimes

What is a good mindfulness exercise that can be practiced out and about to prepare the mind for daoist training?

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I work a few days a week in a physical, labour-intensive role, that doesn't require much thought. I currently have a dedicated practice of anchoring the breath as per damo mitchell's intro the microcosmic orbit, which I expect will take a lengthy time to develop in order to move onto the next stage. I want to develop my mind in a way that can assist in this progression, and as I have much mental time on my hands whilst working, I would like to do something during this time.

 

I've tried different kinds of mindfulness, such as awareness of the body involved in the breathing process, what breathing feels like, resting my attention on/in the body, etc., but I'm not really getting much from it, I think because I have little faith in their ability to get me anywhere, so I don't really feel confident in giving it my all. 

 

I would like to still my mind - although not through repression - into a calm, relaxed state of awareness, that can be useful in daoist practices. I can't focus 100% because I still need to maintain active awareness of my surroundings. To give a little more context as to my default mental inclinations, if that may help with suggestions, I have a tendency to adopt negative over positive thought patterns, and my mind tends to gravitate towards dullness and forgetfulness - by forgetfulness I mean periods where I have little self awareness, will snap out of it, and wonder where I just went.

 

I appreciate any input, many thanks!

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23 hours ago, -_sometimes said:

I've tried different kinds of mindfulness, such as awareness of the body involved in the breathing process, what breathing feels like, resting my attention on/in the body, etc., but I'm not really getting much from it, I think because I have little faith in their ability to get me anywhere, so I don't really feel confident in giving it my all. 


I would say that maybe you haven’t managed to achieve mindfulness of the body. It’s hard enough to do it whilst being still :) 

 

I think being mindful of your body is a better idea than your breath.
 

But realise that it’s a pretty tough task. Treat it as an exploration - especially as you’re doing manual work… can you become aware of how you’re using your body to do the work… how you’re using muscles and placement and tendons and joints… Can you find was of being faster, more efficient, smoother, more relaxed while doing the actions? Is there redundant tension you can drop? Is there a more graceful way you can move?

 

Are you really aware of your body or of a mental representation of your body? Can you soak your awareness directly into your tissues? Can you be aware of sensations (texture, pressure, air movement, temperature)?

 

Give that a go. Notice your tendency to lose focus or get distracted. Treat it as an exploration.

 

You can certainly try mantra too. Though awareness of body, I suspect would be of particular benefit for you.

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3 hours ago, freeform said:

 

 

Quote

Are you really aware of your body or of a mental representation of your body?

I want to feel the body, as opposed to forming a mental image of what it looks like? I find I often tend to create a mental image of what it's like have awareness of some part of body, how can I avoid that, or should I? 

 

Quote

Can you soak your awareness directly into your tissues? 

What does that feel like? This is mainly what I was attempting, I wonder if you could outline the sort of progression one might see as a result of this activity? As one develops the ability to soak the awareness into the the tissue, what develops or ensues? I ask because having faith in what can come as a result of this, should ensure I don't drift from one thing to another, which I feel like is what I'm missing. 

I don't quite know what benefits or results can be achieved, so it feels like a shot in the dark

Edited by -_sometimes
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50 minutes ago, -_sometimes said:

I find I often tend to create a mental image of what it's like have awareness of some part of body, how can I avoid that, or should I? 


Yeah - that’s what I mean - that’s totally normal and is what happens for most people in the beginning.

 

Yes you want to avoid having a mental image.
 

How to avoid it - start with sensation… for instance you can probably feel the pressure of your foot touching the ground… you could probably feel the texture of the sock… maybe the warmth trapped in your shoe… you can feel if your toes are spread or not… if you pay closer attention you’ll be able to feel the position of each of your joints. 
 

Is your weight more in one foot than the other? Is your weight towards the front of the foot or the back or middle? 
 

Are your hips level? Are your knees locked or bent? 
 

Are you tending some part of your body when you don’t need to be?

 

How’s gravity interacting with your posture? 


This is the sort of exploration that gets your awareness into your body. 
 

When you’re moving or working, you’ll be able to feel your muscles engage, your joints open and close… you’ll feel areas of tension and areas of relaxation… you’ll feel the position of your limbs in space… the effects of gravity and so on.

 

50 minutes ago, -_sometimes said:

the sort of progression one might see as a result of this activity? As one develops the ability to soak the awareness into the the tissue, what develops or ensues?


to start with - what people call being ‘grounded’ or centred. You basically feel calm and present.

 

After a while you’ll feel more graceful and ‘articulate’ with how you move.

 

A while later you’ll begin to touch a sense of flow - feeling comfortable, effortless and highly skilled in how you move.

 

The account of ‘butcher ding’ in zhuangzi illustrates what’s possible if you can become absorbed in what you’re doing with your body.

 

It'll be difficult and clunky at first… you’ll have to absorb into the easy parts (hands are easy to absorb your mind into) 

 

After a while you’ll be able to absorb your mind into your whole body at once. That’s when things start to feel really comfortable and flowing.

 

You’ll get really good at what you’re doing, and the work will start to feel effortless.

 

It also sets you up for any sort of internal practice like taiji, qigong and so on.

 

But you have to put in the hard work of being diligent and attentive and overcoming your habitual patterns. It’s not easy. But it’s very rewarding eventually.

Edited by freeform
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