Yesterday I talked about the need to remind ourselves of our intention to meditate daily. I’ve also talked about how we can use an affirmation to embed into our sense of ourselves that we are, in fact, daily meditators, and that the habit of meditating daily is just a part of who we are.
Today I want to talk more about reminders. I call these reminders “mindfulness triggers.”
The Vietnamese Buddhist Teacher Thich Nhat Hanh suggests posting little notes that will remind you to smile and relax. You can post notes so you will see them first thing in the morning, helping to set the tone for the day.
Sticky notes, placed in prominent places, like on your bathroom mirror, or on the front door where you’ll see it as you leave the house, or on your car dashboard, or somewhere in your work area, will help you to cultivate mindfulness. They can say something as simple as “breathe” or “smile” or “remember” or “relax.” It’s good to have several in different places, and to have them say different things. As you see them, you’ll remember to step back and be aware of how you are and how you’re being, and you’ll find that you have an opportunity to adjust your attitude.
If you have some post-it notes available, why not go off right now and make some mindfulness triggers for yourself? And then maybe you could share in the discussion forum what some of your words are, and where you placed them.
Thanks bodhipaksa, these encouraging articles are really helpful. Will you be able to come up with 100 of them? The thought of that challenge makes ours seem easy! ;)
Hi Bodhipaksa, I just found out about this on day five, so I’m joining you right NOW. In fact, I think there’s just time for a quick sit before bed. Hello and goodnight!
5/100 done for about 16 min.
This morning’s session was full of mindful triggers to practice letting go and returning to the breath. Such as the chill in the air from a malfunctioning heater (to be called about today), and the sound of many gun shots. I live near a national forest and hunting season is over, but it is not over on the private land of several hunting clubs near by. Some mornings I feel that I am meditating in a war zone! Then my son woke and started crying which cut the session short.
I can be annoyed at these things cutting in to “my” time or I can look at them as my sticky notes. The broken heat reminds me how grateful I am that I have a home and the means to keep it up. Hearing the gun hots reminds me that I live in a beautiful wooded area surrounded by trees. Then the crying toddler who is excited to see me when I come in to pick him up for his first hug of the day is the greatest mindful trigger of them all. All of the “distractions” to what I am trying do do during the day are my mindfulness sticky notes.
Today was Uposatha Day in my calendar, so I decided to make a particular effort. Thus I had a 15-min walking meditation followed by a 15-min sitting meditation (anapanasati). Then I tried some visualization of the Medicine Buddha during 5 minutes (I had and still have a headache. Through my whole meditation session it faded and finally almost disappeared, but now that I’m in front of my screen, it’s coming back. At least it is less painful!). And finally I tried your Emotional Awareness Exercise a little more than 15 minutes. So I meditated almost one hour today :)
As far as post-it notes are concerned, I already sticked two on my walls and two on my notebook one week ago. One is a reminder of the five ways to increase joy: smile, appreciate, love, feel loved, and savor the positive (comming from bodhipaksa.com). I placed it near the switch next to my bed and in my notebook.
The second note in my notebook reminds me of five good habits to take: take time eating, breathing breaks, awareness of thoughts, full screen mode, and break from news (also comming from bodhipaksa.com ^^).
Finally the last one says “Don’t Judge Don’t Expect” and is placed near TV. Each time I have inspiration or I find good idea here or there, I’ll increase the number of notes. I think it is really useful.
N.B. Sorry for writing so much today and thanks for your patience ;P
Re: post-it notes.
One on the bathroom mirror saying “Sit!”. ;-)
One next to the tea-bags (which I visit about six times each day) which says “It’s what I do”.
5/100 I am enjoying the articles and posts. It was a little difficult sitting today, but I did 30 minutes. I just put a “Breathe” post-it on my netbook and a “Smile” post-it on my Kindle. Thank you, Bodhipaksa.
10 min Sun Salutations, 15 minutes sitting mantra meditation.
Coming here to post daily definitely is helping me. I also put it on my To-Do list every day as a reminder that it’s just as important as any of the other things that need to be done in a day.
Yesterday I did the Six Elements meditation for the first time after reading about it hear. I’d heard of it before but had never tried it. I was meditating at the buddhist centre and the room there is really simple but beautiful and calm.
The meditation was amazing. I can’t really put into words what happened but suffice to say when I went down to sign out, I saw that I’d been up there for an hour and a half. It seemed like about 10 minutes!
I was having a cuppa afterwards and was chatting to one of the women that volunteers there. She said that the Six Elements is discouraged in that tradition until people are going for ordination! I have no idea why that might be. She said it was because it can bring up negative thoughts about insignificance. That was one of the very thoughts about it that I loved! It puts things into perspective very firmly. Any thoughts on this approach of only doing it before ordination anyone? I found it rather confusing!
I’m assuming that this was a Triratna center, that being the same tradition I practice in. Often people aren’t taught the Six Element Practice until they’re preparing to join the Triratna Buddhist Order, but many of us practiced this meditation before that, and some of us in the order teach it to people who have a reasonable grounding in mindfulness of breathing and metta bhavana.
Any practice can bring up negative thoughts. The metta bhavana has probably been responsible for more negative thoughts than any other practice :) But we deal with these.
I wouldn’t recommend doing the six element practice as your main meditation practice. I recommend a core of mindfulness of breathing and development of lovingkindness, with the six element practice done from time to time. It’s my belief that people should develop some experience of insight meditations not too long after gaining a grounding in the two basic practices I’ve mentioned.
Thanks Bodhipaksa. Yes it’s a Triratna centre.
I’ve been doing the mindfulness of breathing and metta bhavana for years on and off, and am now looking further into Buddhism and would now identify as a Buddhist. Which has only taken me about 15 years to say! It feels like the right time to come to it and my meditations after making that decision have been of a very different quality.
I wasn’t intending to practice the six elements yesterday. It just came into my head about earth, it started from there. It was quite amazing. Each stage had it’s own images and feelings that I’d never considered before. It’s not something I’d do every day as it’s been with me all day today and I just did a fairly short mindfulness and metta mediation today and some reflection on lucidity etc.
It’s something, along with many other aspects that I’m really looking forward to exploring more as the impact it is having on my every day life, and general state of mind is immeasurable.
Thanks for your insight, that’s really helpful.
Thanks for the background. I’m glad that you enjoyed the practice. I do find it very rich, and a wonderful combination of the imaginative with the directly sensed.
Thanks for the article on it or I wouldn’t have tried it! Best wishes.
Well, you’re have to check out my book on the six elements, Living as a River. That’s a link to the Kindle edition, but the page you’ll land on has a link to the paperback version as well.
Yes, the woman at the centre mentioned that! I’m popping in on Monday to meditate between rehearsals so I’ll pick up a copy then. Thanks again!
[…] Hit the ground sitting! Day 5 of our 100 Day Meditation Challenge […]