Mindfulness means Reminding Ourselves
Mindfulness means reminding ourselves about how to behave and think. These days, mindfulness is such a popular buzz-word. And yes, we’ve heard a lot about it, but what does it really mean to practice mindfulness? Here, in this video clip from a public talk in Malaysia, Phakchok Rinpoche gives focused and specific instructions on how to understand mindfulness as a whole package.
This video includes a Chinese translation.
For our benefit, Rinpoche breaks mindfulness into three different types.
The “first mindfulness,” Rinpoche explains, means focused attention. He teaches us to sit in the correct posture and to be aware of our breath. Our posture itself is a type of mindfulness here. And, we gently return again and again to our breath — with awareness. That is one form of mindfulness. And this first mindfulness works with our basic mind.
Most importantly, we need to apply mindfulness to our real problems. Yes, paying attention to our tea, eating carefully, or walking purposefully are forms of mindfulness. But, we should not just leave mindfulness there.
Mindfulness Means Reminding Ourselves Not to Fall into Our Habits
We need to know our habits, and here mindfulness is extremely helpful. We can remain vigilant and aware of our patterns. To do this, we need to reflect and see. And we alternate these two practices: reflect a bit, then see or notice. As human beings, we can have a wide variety of habits — anger, pride, jealousy, stubbornness — but we really need to investigate our own situation. Here’s more on handling our habits.
This second type of mindfulness works with our “habit mind.” Our habit mind is that mind that feels a lack — habit mind feels slightly discontented. So, here, we recognize our faults and stay aware so as not to slip into old habits.
Mindfulness Means Reminding Ourselves What to Practice
Once we remind ourselves to physically practice, and what habits to avoid, we also need to remind ourselves of our most important daily life practices. Rinpoche here gives his own example. He reminds himself in daily life not to take things personally. By reminding himself, he is reducing his own “influenced mind.” Thus, he repeats to himself, “Don’t take it personally… practice compassion.”
The third mindfulness relates to our “influenced mind.” We call it this because the mind of daily life is very influenced by outer conditions. Thus, it is shaky and susceptible to change. If we apply this mindfulness, and remind ourselves of what to practice, many of our problems automatically reduce. This is a very effective method.
Mindfulness Means More Than One Simple Technique
When we hear about mindfulness, we should understand all these elements. Don’t think it just means walking slowly or sipping your tea carefully. Instead, if we apply the three types of mindfulness, we can bring about real transformation. Again, these three mindfulnesses are:
- Meditation (such as a focus on the breath)
- Knowing and not supporting our bad habits
- Remembering key practice points
How do you understand influenced mind? Today, try to observe your behavior — can you notice your influenced mind? And when you notice it, then what happens? Please post your observations in the comments section below!
- Handling Habits
- Extending Mindfulness: How to Train
- What Does Meditation Practice Mean?
- Training the mind: beginning with small steps
Influenced mind in action! As I was reading the notes after this teaching, someone came in and responded tersley to a question I had asked them. I felt my annoyance rise and was about to react not so kindly. Then I laughed at myself, re-read Rinpoche’s words “Don’t take personally…practice compassion”, exhaled and said to myself, “nying-je…poor guy.” And let it go. Now the question is how to keep seeing that when moments don’t arise so serendipitously…