5-7-23 Right Mindfulness and Effort

Right Mindfulness and Effort

In my addiction I thought I needed to find something better, more, or  different from who I was. Because I was unhappy with myself and my relationship with the world, I indulged in and grasped at outside substances or behaviors that I thought would bring me happiness, or at least a break from my self-imposed unhappiness. This eventually brought more suffering, and became a monster that started taking away things of value in my life, and I lost a good sense of who I was.  As I have, to a large degree, been able to let go of the craving for a behavior or substance, 

I realize that the conditions that started me on the path of harmful searching, still exists. Now is where true healing and growth begins.  I know I need to attend to the still existing conditions that can continue to cause me unhappiness beyond my primary addiction.

The solution to suffering is to stop clinging and attaching. But how do we do that? The fact is, you can’t — by an act of will. You can’t just vow to yourself, okay, from now on I won’t crave anything. This doesn’t work, because the conditions that give rise to craving will still be present. Changing the mental habits and conditioning of a lifetime is not easy. Mindfulness and right effort is not something that only happens during meditation, but throughout the day.

If you have a daily practice, praying, chanting, meditating, yoga, in a fully attentive way it is mindfulness training. To PRACTICE mindfulness –  It is helpful to choose a particular activity such as preparing a meal, cleaning the floors, while speaking or listening, or taking a walk, and make an effort to be fully mindful of the task as you perform it.

Mindfulness is pre-symbolic. It is not shackled to logic. The true experience of life lies beyond the words and above the symbols. To be mindful is to be fully present, not lost in daydreams, anticipation, indulgences, or worry. Mindfulness also means observing and releasing habits of mind that maintain the illusion of a separate self. This includes dropping the mental habit of judging everything according to whether we like it or not, not filtering everything through our subjective opinions. Meditation develops mindfulness; people sitting in meditation train to stay alert to the moment, observing and then releasing thoughts instead of chasing them.

1. Mindfulness reminds us of what we are supposed to be doing. If we are sitting in meditation, it brings us back to the focus of meditation. If we are washing dishes, it reminds us to pay full     attention to washing the dishes, or if walking, to engage fully in the walk.

2. In mindfulness, we see things as they really are. Our thoughts have a way of pasting over     reality, and OUR concepts, opinions, and judgements distort what we experience. We are not
living in reality! Like when we were in the throws of our addiction.

3. Mindfulness sees the true nature of phenomena. Reality without our prejudices.

If we realize this we can begin to let go of trying to solidify who we are and how OUR world should be. We begin to open up to the possibilities that actually exist. 

Right Effort – There are four aspects to Right Effort. Very simply —

1-The effort to prevent unwholesome qualities, especially greed, anger and ignorance from arising.
2 – The effort to extinguish unwholesome qualities that have already  arisen.
3 – The effort to cultivate skillful, wholesome qualities — especially generosity, loving kindness, and wisdom, that have not yet arisen.
4 – The effort to strengthen the wholesome qualities that have already arisen.

These are five hindrances, that interfere with Right Effort and keep us stuck in willful suffering. 
1-Sensual desire,  2-Ill will,  3-Sloth, 4-Restlessness and worry, 5-Uncertainty or skepticism.
To begin and to grow in recovery, and to lessen our suffering we need to be aware of when we 
are engaging in one of the hindrances, and to know how to arrest the unwholesome activity.
As warm air replaces cold air, cultivate skillful, wholesome qualities — especially patience, 
kindness, forgiveness and tolerance. LET GO – make the EFFORT, which comes easier with use. 
If you feel you Struggle with effort, accept that you are struggling, and relax into the effort.

Buddhism is pragmatic and informative, but might seem a bit dry. More simply, recognize when 
you are feeling off, tense, in “quiet desperation” and say, “hey, what am I doing? Why am I 
feeling this way? I don’t want to feel lousy.” Are you feeling restless, have ill-will, or are 
fearing something? Recognize that you don’t want to feel this way and you can work with 
it. Breathe deeply, regroup and bring a sense of ease and appreciation into your mind. Engage 
with your task fully, with respect for what you are doing. Make the effort.

We may feel we need to “get through” our daily tasks, washing our face, showering, eating 
breakfast, getting to work, planning the day, regretting what we didn’t do yesterday, fearing what 
we might screw up today. Resenting what we HAVE to get done today. All of that is our ego, our
minds playing games of resenting being alive. Aggression and ambition have only produced 
speed, and now we are always in a panic, an addiction of ME. There is no joy in any addiction.

We can find a joy in all of the above when we enter into life more simply and engage fully, 
mindfully, in any duty and any choice we make.

If we see mindfulness as a power greater than what we have been utilizing, it may seem that to give our will, our ego, over to this power, to engage mindfulness instead of old behaviors of self-seeking or fleeing reality, will erase who we are. In mindfulness there is a lack of ego, of craving and fear which is a state we avoid because we are not used to it. We think it will turn us into a mush of not doing anything of substance. The opposite is true. We begin relying on our inspiration and intuition, we begin engaging non-judgmental kindness and feel a power that we have not known before. We are energized to engage in life more, and in healthier ways. We can see what is healthy and what is unhealthy more clearly, without judgement, and make wiser decisions. Kind of like growing up.

To enjoy life is paramount, to be engaged in and bring joy to ALL of our daily tasks. 

Whatever I am giving most of my attention to, is what my life consists of.
Be Mindful! Make the Effort! Wag more, Bark less.

How do you fill your bucket? One drop at a time
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step
The great arises out of small things that are honored and cared for
May you be well. May you be happy. May you find peace.

Heart Of Recovery web site  — fcheartofrecovery.com