Sunday, July 6, 2008

Mindfulness: 6 R's

Easy to Understand Mindfulness
By the American Buddhist monk Bhante Vimalaramsi (Annapolis, Missouri)

Meditation is “observing how mind’s attention moves moment-to-moment in order to see clearly and precisely how the impersonal process of Dependent Origination occurs.” Seeing and under-standing how the mind’s attention moves from one thing to another is the main thrust of Buddhist meditation.
This is why Dependent Origination is so important in seeing and understanding. It develops an impersonal perspective with regard to all arising phenomena and leads the meditator to see the true nature of existence.
Successful meditation needs a highly developed skill of mind-fulness. The “6R’s” training taught at Dhamma Sukha Meditation Center is a reclaimed ancient guidance system to develop this skill.

The first R is to recognize when your mind is distracted. Before that, the meditator must recollect or re-ignite his or her power of observation (mindfulness) for the meditation-cycle to begin running. Mindfulness is fuel. It’s like gas for an engine. Without mindfulness, everything stops. Being persistent with this practice relieves suffering of all kinds. To begin the cycle smoothly, one must start the engine with lots of gas (mindfulness) in the tank.

Mindfulness recollects how the meditator can recognize and observe any movement of the mind’s attention from one thing to another. This observation notices any movement of the mind’s attention away from the object of meditation, such as the breath or the sending out of metta (loving-kindness), or performing any task in daily life.

One can notice a slight sensation of tightness/tension as the mind’s attention just barely begins to move toward any arising phenomenon. Pleasant or painful feeling can take place at any of the six sense doors. Any sight, sound, odor, taste, touch, or thought might cause this pulling sensation to begin. With careful non-judgmental observation, the meditator may notice a slight tightening sensation. Recognizing early movement is vital to successful meditation.

One then continues on to release. Relax. When a feeling or thought arises, the meditator releases it, lets it be without giving any further attention to it. The content of the distraction is not important at all. But the mechanics of HOW it arose are. Just let go of any tightness around it; let it be there without placing attention on it. Deprived of attention, the tightness passes away.

Mindfulness then reminds the meditator to relax. After releasing the feeling (painful or pleasant sensation), and allowing it to be without trying to control it, there is a subtle, barely noticeable tension in the mind/body. This is why a tranquilizing step is emphasized. It’s easy.

Lighten up, have fun exploring, and smile. Smiling leads us to a happier, more interesting practice. If the meditator forgets to release and relax, rather than punishing or criticizing him or herself, be kind, re-smile, and start again. Keeping up one’s humor, sense of fun, exploration, and re-cycling through these phases is important. After re-smiling, mindfulness recalls the next step.

Gently return your attention to the object of meditation (the breath and relaxing, or loving-kindness and relaxing), continuing with a gentle, collected mind to use the meditation object as a “home base.” In daily life, having been pulled off task, is where one returns attention -- releasing, relaxing, and re-smiling before again taking up the task.

Sometimes people say this practice-cycle is simpler than expected. Often simple things became a mystery because of small omissions and changes. Reclaiming this practice develops more effective focus on daily tasks with less tension and tightness. Mind becomes more naturally balanced and happy. The meditator becomes more efficient at whatever he/she does. People actually have more fun doing everything that once seemed like drudgery.

Mindfulness helps us remember to apply the Buddha's meditation instructions. REMEMBER THIS STEP. To leave it out would be like forgetting to oil a car and expecting the motor to run smoothly. Without performing this relaxation step every time in the meditation-cycle, the meditator will not experience a close-up view of the cessation of tension caused by craving or feel the relief when the tightness unclenches.

Note: craving always manifests first as tightness or tension in the mind and body. One has a momentary opportunity to see and experience its real nature and the relief that comes from cessation (of tightness and suffering) while performing the release/relax steps.

Mindfulness moves on with a recollection to re-smile. If you have listened to the Dharma talks at, you may remember hearing about how smiling is an important aspect of this meditation. Learning to smile -- slightly raising the corners of the mouth -- helps the mind remain observant, alert, and agile.

Getting serious, tensing up, or frowning causes the mind to become heavy and one’s mindfulness to become dull. One’s insights become more difficult to see, thus slowing one’s understanding of Dharma (phenomena and the Doctrine).
Imagine for a moment, the young Bodhisatta Siddhartha resting under the Rose Apple tree as a boy, years before he became the Buddha. He was not serious and tense when he attained a "pleasant abiding" (jhana) and experienced deep insights with a light mind.

Repeat the entire practice-cycle to attain the results the Buddha said could be reached in this very life. Repeating the “6R’s cycle” over and over again eventually replaces old, habitual suffering as we see and experience for ourselves what suffering actually is.

Notice the cause, which is becoming involved with the tension or tightness in any way. Experience its cessation by releasing and relaxing. And discover how to exercise the direct path to the cessation of suffering that we ourselves cause. This will happen each time you release an arising feeling, relax, and re-smile. Notice the relief.

Dhammasukha Meditation Center & Jeta’s Grove
RR1 Box 100 Annapolis, MO 63620
Phone: (573) 546-1214
Bhante Vimalaramsi:
Sister Khema:

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