We are starting a monthly installment with tips on how to deepen your mindfulness practice. This month, we share four ways to establish mindfulness in your daily life by offering gathas (poems or verses) that will help you become aware of your body, your feelings, your mind, and the objects of your mind. Use these gathas to bring peace to yourself and your family. They can be especially helpful when you are busy during the holidays.
For a deeper understanding of the practices below, see Thay’s Discourse on the Four Establishments of Mindfulness.
Be aware of your body
Whether you are walking, sitting, or lying down, be aware of the sensations in and around your body. Say to yourself:
Breathing in, I am aware of my whole body.
Breathing out, I am aware of my whole body.
Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I calm my body.
When I walk, I am aware ‘I am walking.’
When I sit, I am aware, ‘I am sitting.’
When I lie down, I am aware ‘I am lying down.’
Be aware of your feelings
When going about your daily life, be mindful of your feelings. Notice them. Say to yourself:
When I have a pleasant feeling, I am aware ‘I am experiencing a pleasant feeling.’
When I have a painful feeling, I am aware ‘I am experiencing a painful feeling.’
When I have a neutral feeling, I am aware ‘I am experiencing a neutral feeling.’
Observe when they belong to the body and when they belong to the mind. When strong feelings emerge, return to your breathing and be compassionate and patient with yourself.
Be aware of your mind (mental formations)
Whenever you can, observe the quality of your mental formations. Say to yourself:
When my mind is desiring, I am aware, ‘My mind is desiring.’
When my mind is not desiring, I am aware, ‘My mind is not desiring.’
When my mind is dispersed, I am aware, ‘My mind is dispersed.’
When my mind is not dispersed, I am aware, ‘My mind is not dispersed.’
Be aware in the same way when you have a confused mind, a collected mind, a hating mind, an expansive mind, a narrow mind, the highest mind, and a concentrated and liberated mind. Remain established in the observation, free, not caught in any worldly consideration.
Be aware of objects of your mind
Throughout the day, be aware when the object of your mind is one of the five hindrances, the five aggregates of clinging, the six sense organs and objects, the seven factors of awakening, or the four noble truths. For example, for the five hindrances, think:
When sensual desire is present, I am aware, ‘Sensual desire is present in me.’
When sensual desire is not present, I am aware, ‘Sensual desire is not present in me.’
When sensual desire begins to arise, I am aware of it.
When sensual desire that has already arisen is abandoned, I am aware of it.
For verses on the other objects of mind, see the full discourse from Thay.
If the verses in this article resonate with you, consider adding calendar reminders for them or bookmark this page. The more you practice, the more solid you can become.
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