new Meditation menu added to introduction page
new Meditation menu added to introduction page
Questions from around the world on the MIDL Mindfulness Meditation System.
46/52: Mindful Hearing
47/52: Mindful Smelling
48/52: Mindful Tasting
49/52: Mindful Touching
50/52: Mindful Knowing pt 1
51/52: Mindful Knowing pt 2
Your Question: I'm trying to be mindful during daily life and its going ok. But during this seated meditation:
1- I couldn't find out or see what sound is.
2- I didn't have enough focus to understand if sound is inside or outside of my body.
3- I couldn't see where is my ear (not physical ear).
Stephen Procter: You do not need to understand what sound is or where it is or how it is that you hear.
As a meditator when being mindful of any of your senses, what is important is two things:
1. Observing your awareness of the sense experience.
2. Observing your relationship towards the sense experience.
The true importance of sensory experience such as hearing is:
1. Sensory experience is always present, here, now.
2. Attraction and aversion are found in relationship towards sensory experience.
Understanding this we develop heightened awareness of all sensory experience, such as sound and ground our awareness within that experience in the same way that we ground our awareness within our body in beginning meditation practices such as mindfulness of breathing. this then holds awareness present in both seated meditation and daily life allowing us to observe and soften into any habitual attraction or aversion that arises within our mind.
Your Question: How can awareness of a sense have elemental qualities?
Stephen Procter: After hearing someone say something that you don't like, you may experience a mental 'contracting', 'tightening or hardening'. The contracting / tightening is an experience of wind element, the experience of hardness is earth element.
If your attention then moves towards that person, you may then experience your attention as 'expanding' and 'moving' - wind element. When your attention reaches the person you may experience it 'sticking' on them, this 'stickiness' and 'cohesion' that you experience as your mind obsesses and won't let go is the experience of water element.
As the anger builds in your mind you may experience it as 'tension', 'heat' (fire element), and 'restlessness', and so this cycle of elements continues. All the elements that can be experienced within your body can be experienced within the mind, actually all experience at the six senses before mental proliferation through conceptual interpretation and thinking is known as the four elements.
Your Question: At one point of this meditation I was confused. Why open the eyes before the ringing of the bell? I was in a much deeper state beforehand, and opening of my eyes pulled me away from it.
Stephen Procter: To only be able to be present with an experience while you are seated with eyes closed is to create a separateness between meditation and everyday life. Be careful not to confuse the peacefulness created through fixed concentration with the arising of wisdom. Wisdom is not generated by sitting with sound in a deeply concentrated state but by investigating why you are drawn out into the world and experience a collapse of your mindfulness and concentration when your eyes open.
When you hear the sound it is through one sense door - the ear. When you see a sight it is through another sense door - the eye. Your task during MIDL mindfulness meditation training is to notice the mind move between the Six Sense Doors and to be aware of your relationship towards the experiences at those doors. As I say in my classes "stay on the horses back", this is how you learn about horses, not by tying it to a post.
This is how wisdom is generated and also how seated mindfulness meditation is transferred into everyday life, not just sitting still on a cushion. It is with this ability to make every waking moment throughout your life your practice, that Mindfulness meditation matures and the separateness between seated meditation and daily life dissolves.
Your Question: Why do we observe our five senses during meditation, wouldn't it be more productive to be mindful of our breathing? Can you explain?
Stephen Procter: The five sense doors are the doorway between our awareness and the world. The world that we know can only be experienced through five doorways: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.
These five doors are always present. The experience of the doors are always right here, right now. Any of these five doors can be used during seated mindfulness meditation, and they can also equally be used during everyday life.
Because these five doors can only be experienced right now, the experience of them is an anchor, a reference point, to the present. While the mind travels between three different realities - the reality of the past, the reality of the present, and the reality of the future -
the experience of our body and the experience of the five sense doors can only be experienced in the present.
So using them during formal meditation training and for mindfulness in everyday life - literally coming to your senses - will anchor you in the present, anchor you in reality, protect you from the ups and downs in life, and provide an anchor for training the mind.
During meditation for example you can the sense door of smell as an anchor. Because smell is always present, you can use incense or oil to bring you into presence. you begin your meditation by being aware of that sense of smell - without commentary, without thinking about it. While holding presence within your body, it anchors your awareness, it holds you right here right now. And it dissolves past and future.
Your Question: Could you explain how to get the most benefit out of eating mindfully while meditating and explain the basic method behind it? thanks.
Stephen Procter: When observing the sense door of taste always observe it in two parts.
The first part is based on mindfulness of texture, which has an elemental quality to it. Texture appears as a range of:
The second part is based on mindfulness of flavour. Flavour and texture can be experienced separately and it is the two together that create the individual experience of eating different things.
Focusing in on these different elemental qualities when eating, separates the flavour from the texture of the food. This enables you to be able to see and observe how your mind creates the flavour and overlays it on top of texture. With mindful observing it is possible notice how the flavour permeates, floats on the texture of the food. Seeing the transitory and illusionary nature of flavour, lowers our desire towards it.
To take this to a higher level, a deeper level of understanding, the progress of mindfulness of eating, is to notice any feeling of pleasantness or unpleasantness that is present with that food type. This pleasantness or unpleasantness is called Vedana.
Notice how when there is a pleasant feeling, this pleasant mental overlay on the experience of eating, the desire will arise in you to have more. To experience more. To taste more. Notice if there is an unpleasantness associated with the food, the desire will arise in you to not have more. to not experience more. To get away from that food.
When you notice the desire, the pull towards, or the pull away, start to notice the elemental quality of that desire.
Break up both the physical and mental experiences into their elemental qualities.
Whenever you notice the desire to have more of the pleasantness, more of the taste, place your awareness on that desire and gently soften, relax into it. Use slow, gentle breaths and soften into, relax into that desire. When you do this, notice what happens when you soften into the desire.
Notice what happens to the pleasantness or unpleasantness. When these dissolve, does the flavour change or does the flavour vanish? Do you just have the texture in the food?
To develop wisdom. To gain understanding into both the mind and its interaction with the world, this is a line of inquiry to bring into eating. Be playful with this in everyday life. During normal life you can hold it in a general way in particular if you have problems with certain foods that problem being that you like this and don't like that. Or you can also use it at specified times. You can also set a time aside to experiment with different foods. Either watching the mind create a food: taste, flavour or desire when no food is present or notice how your mind creates it on a food while you are eating it.
Have fun investigating
Your Question: I am told by many teachers to be aware of touch, but other then developing concentration I still can't see if it has deeper benefits. Could you explain how to get the most benefit being mindful of the feeling of touch during meditation and why and how it develops understanding?
Stephen Procter: Through mindfully observing the sense of touch you will start to notice that your body or the actual function of your body is to listen to the world. You start to notice that your body
is not experienced as tall or short, fat or thin, attractive or unattractive, black or white, healthy or unhealthy, sexy or unsexy, well-dressed or not well-dressed.
Our body´s function is not to be any of these things - these are all creations within the mind, what is known as the conceptual world. this world is not based on reality. Through observing you start to notice that the body´s function is to listen to the world. That your body is your biggest external sense organ.
Your body is no different to your eyes, which are sensitive to light, your ears which are sensitive to sound, your nose which is sensitive to smell, your tongue which is sensitive to taste and your body is sensitive to touch. As the world touches you your body responds and it reflects this sense of touch within your body. And this sense of touch arises as sensations.
The sense of touch covers all the other senses. Your body is the biggest sense organ and it is constantly listening to the world around you as the world touches you. Your body also is touched by the sixth sense door, the mind. When the mind touches the body the body responds. And it responds in the only way it knows how to: it responds through creating sensations.
So when your mind tightens and it touches the body, the body reflects this tightness. When your mind is anxious, it touches the body and the body responds with anxious feelings, anxious sensations arising in the body. If the mind is angry, if the mind is sad, if the mind is lonely,
it touches the body and the body responds. If the mind is happy, loving or kind, it touches the body and the body also responds. It also responds with soft, relaxed, gentle sensations.
What you experience in your body, all the sensations in your body, are the sensations of touch.
As a meditator learn to carry this experience of touch, this mindfulness of your body, and be aware of when it is a world touching you, or when it is a mind touching the body. And understand all of them within them self as just a sense of touch. From this observation understanding will arise and develop into wisdom that will have a profound effect on your life and the way that your mind perceives the world.