Mindfulness while doing complicated tasks

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Mindfulness while doing complicated tasks

Postby JohnWB » Sat Mar 08, 2014 8:40 pm

I've been trying to remember to be mindful throughout the day. Most times I find myself enjoying moments of peace. Worries & thoughts of the past or future seem to dissolve as I focus only on on the task at hand. Today I decided to enjoy a ride on my motorcycle since the weather was beautiful. I found myself getting almost confused while trying to manage simple maneuvers if I tried to get "mindful" of the moment. It was almost like my mind and focus was getting in the way of what my body already had in control. It feels like riding requires a large degree of focus and applying "more mindfulness" complicates things. I'm not sure if my thoughts and views on what mindfulness means are really accurate. :shrug:
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Re: Mindfulness while doing complicated tasks

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Mar 08, 2014 8:55 pm

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Re: Mindfulness while doing complicated tasks

Postby purple planet » Sat Mar 08, 2014 9:34 pm

I use labeling -

some tasks its hard to use labeling on them - so you just do what you do - and be mindful (label if you use this technique ) of whats not the task

like : when you study and are reading something - and you catch yourself thinking about vacation when you notice this then note it (if you use lableing : desire*3 or dreaming*3 or thinking*3 whatever fits you) - if you stop reading and scratch - note it .... if you stop to blow your nose - if you hear something .... its complicated to be mindful while reading - thats why you should just read and be focused on it without trying to be "mindful" (in the far future when you will be more advanced you might be able to be mindful of it) and be mindful (label) everything around it

same with other tasks like talking - watching stuff ect - you can try from time to time to try to be mindful when doing complicated tasks but in general its best to be mindful of the around and try to focus on the task without "trying" to be mindful


And the most important thing which i do myself : i almost did an accident a few times when trying to be "mindful" when driving - its very possible to do it but i belive its very "advanced" no need to rush things - be mindful of all the around like getting in the car - entering and turning the key - maybe be mindful in red lights - its a good time to practice mindfulness - all this moments take a lot of the time - so even if you are driving all day i strongly suggest that when you are purley driving (be mindful when entering the car starting the engine maybe even in red lights) dont try to be mindful at all even not to the "around" and JUST DRIVE - even put music on if it helps

even if you are a cab or truck driver i really belive its best to not try to be mindful when you drive (if you practice all day you might be mindful without trying )

in short : be mindful whenever you can do it and be successful at what you do (if when you hear someone you try be mindful of hearing instead of hearing you wont understand what he says) if its to complicated to be mindful be mindful at all the "around" (your actions - what you hear ect when you get distracted from the task) and not the task itself
i believe that when we advance (im not there yet also) we will be abale to be mindful of every action
dont try to be mindful when you drive until you are very advanced

this are all my current thoughts - i might be wrong - im not advanced myself and have this same question in mind - some people on the internet say they are mindful when they drive - it might be possible - i think i managed to do it a few times - but i rather not take a chance - its not only you might get killed - but you might kill others - so who knows - maybe trying to be mindful when driving might be unwholesome karma in some way
Please send merit to my dog named Mika who has passed away - thanks in advance
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Re: Mindfulness while doing complicated tasks

Postby seeker242 » Sun Mar 09, 2014 12:04 am

JohnWB wrote:I've been trying to remember to be mindful throughout the day. Most times I find myself enjoying moments of peace. Worries & thoughts of the past or future seem to dissolve as I focus only on on the task at hand. Today I decided to enjoy a ride on my motorcycle since the weather was beautiful. I found myself getting almost confused while trying to manage simple maneuvers if I tried to get "mindful" of the moment. It was almost like my mind and focus was getting in the way of what my body already had in control. It feels like riding requires a large degree of focus and applying "more mindfulness" complicates things. I'm not sure if my thoughts and views on what mindfulness means are really accurate. :shrug:


Perhaps it's because when you are driving a motorcycle, your attention should be on the act of operating the vehicle, not on some abstract thing like "the moment" or whatever you want to call it. "Mindful of the moment", when driving a motorcycle really should mean "mindful of the act of driving a motorcycle". Otherwise, you might crash it!

Proper "mindful driving" is the safest way to drive because your full attention is on just the act of driving the vehicle. But if you take your attention off the act of driving the vehicle and put it on some abstract thing like "the moment" or whatever, you really aren't "being mindful" anymore because at the moment, you are driving a vehicle!

But, this does not begin to touch on the fact that "mindfulness" in the Buddhist context of "right mindfulness" means more than just "awareness in the moment", etc.

Real good video on Buddhist mindfulness here. :) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpCy9Tb73gw

:smile:
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Re: Mindfulness while doing complicated tasks

Postby JohnWB » Sun Mar 09, 2014 12:06 am

Ok..
What I'm reading leads me to wonder..
Are some of the activities that I engage in unskillful because they impede my progress in developing mindfulness?
Riding has been a great way to get my mind clear of stress since it requires a lot of concentration. Maybe the wrong kind of concentration.

As my boss used to say to me..."Needs further study."
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Re: Mindfulness while doing complicated tasks

Postby culaavuso » Sun Mar 09, 2014 12:58 am

JohnWB wrote:Riding has been a great way to get my mind clear of stress since it requires a lot of concentration. Maybe the wrong kind of concentration.


This is a useful way to evaluate activities. Mindfulness and concentration are used in various capacities all the time as part of normal life. Right Mindfulness is mindfulness directed towards the four foundations of mindfulness, and Right Concentration is concentration that brings the mind to the states of Jhana. Everyday activities require a basic level of mindfulness, alertness, and concentration, but many activities that are used to clear the mind or release stress are actually based on distraction or sensual pleasure. This means the mindfulness and concentration involved in those activities might be Wrong Mindfulness and Wrong Concentration in terms of the path. Narrow concentration on something that occupies interest and attention is a great form of distraction from stress, but that is not the same thing as directly identifying the stress and becoming familiar with the nature of the stress and its cause.

Path of Concentration & Mindfulness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:The term mindfulness means being able to remember, to keep something in mind.
...
The second quality, alertness (sampajañña), means being aware of what is actually going on in the present.
...
The third quality, ardency (atappa), means two things. One, if you realize that the mind has wandered off, you bring it right back. Immediately. You don't let it wander around, sniffing the flowers. Two, when the mind is with its proper frame of reference, ardency means trying to be as sensitive as possible to what's going on — not just drifting in the present moment, but really trying to penetrate more and more into the subtle details of what's actually happening with the breath or the mind.


SN 45.8: Magga-vibhanga Sutta wrote:And what, monks, is right mindfulness?
(i) There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body in & of itself — ardent, aware, & mindful — putting away greed & distress with reference to the world.
(ii) He remains focused on feelings in & of themselves — ardent, aware, & mindful — putting away greed & distress with reference to the world.
(iii) He remains focused on the mind in & of itself — ardent, aware, & mindful — putting away greed & distress with reference to the world.
(iv) He remains focused on mental qualities in & of themselves — ardent, aware, & mindful — putting away greed & distress with reference to the world. This, monks, is called right mindfulness.

And what, monks, is right concentration?
(i) There is the case where a monk — quite withdrawn from sensuality, withdrawn from unskillful (mental) qualities — enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation.
(ii) With the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, he enters & remains in the second jhana: rapture & pleasure born of concentration, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation — internal assurance.
(iii) With the fading of rapture, he remains equanimous, mindful, & alert, and senses pleasure with the body. He enters & remains in the third jhana, of which the Noble Ones declare, 'Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.'
(iv) With the abandoning of pleasure & pain — as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress — he enters & remains in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither pleasure nor pain. This, monks, is called right concentration.
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Re: Mindfulness while doing complicated tasks

Postby Goofaholix » Sun Mar 09, 2014 4:02 am

You can't do mindfulness exercises that you would normally do on retreat when doing complex tasks in daily life.

Mindfulness is about being fully present with what you're doing as your doing it, and remembering to keep coming back whenever you drift, it's not about mindfulness exercises like noting, or labeling, or doing things slowly.

I've found driving a very good activity to reinforce mindfulness, so riding would be the same in this respect, as it's potentially a dangerous activity and one slip of attention could possibly cost you your life.

So just notice the quality of your attention to what you are doing, notice each time the mind drifts or is inattentive and bring it back, try to give 100% of your attention to the process of riding and all that it entails, monitoring for hazards etc, just notice how the mind behaves.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Mindfulness while doing complicated tasks

Postby barcsimalsi » Sun Mar 09, 2014 4:44 am

JohnWB wrote:I've been trying to remember to be mindful throughout the day. Most times I find myself enjoying moments of peace. Worries & thoughts of the past or future seem to dissolve as I focus only on on the task at hand. Today I decided to enjoy a ride on my motorcycle since the weather was beautiful. I found myself getting almost confused while trying to manage simple maneuvers if I tried to get "mindful" of the moment. It was almost like my mind and focus was getting in the way of what my body already had in control. It feels like riding requires a large degree of focus and applying "more mindfulness" complicates things. I'm not sure if my thoughts and views on what mindfulness means are really accurate. :shrug:

That’s what part of mindfulness does, to be consciously clear instead of allowing the mind to flow with its subconscious habit.

The way i understand, the sutta instruction about being aware with bodily activities is just the first step in bringing the mind back to the present moment. It should be proceed with observing, recalling and investigating the alteration of the aggregates to recognize stress and its causes.

In the case of riding bikes, it is not the purpose of right mindfulness to improve one maneuvering skills( although one can also apply), but rather allowing one to know if one is riding with a pure mind in order to prevent something like this.
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Re: Mindfulness while doing complicated tasks

Postby binocular » Sun Mar 09, 2014 11:18 am

JohnWB wrote:Today I decided to enjoy a ride on my motorcycle since the weather was beautiful. I found myself getting almost confused while trying to manage simple maneuvers if I tried to get "mindful" of the moment. It was almost like my mind and focus was getting in the way of what my body already had in control. It feels like riding requires a large degree of focus and applying "more mindfulness" complicates things.

Similar here, with driving a car, and also in doing some physical exercises. Just earlier this week I went out to do some exercises with a tennis ball, to improve my motoric skills. It amazed me how come I can catch the ball after having thrown it high up in the air; consciously, it seems impossible to understand the exact workings of the body involved in catching a ball (where to step and how far to extend the arms in order to catch the ball etc.). Trying to be "mindful", I actually missed the ball several times. Then I figured this was the sort of activity that I better "just do it" because trying to figure out how exactly it works doesn't seem to contribute much to the improvement of the physical skill.


culaavuso wrote:This is a useful way to evaluate activities. Mindfulness and concentration are used in various capacities all the time as part of normal life. Right Mindfulness is mindfulness directed towards the four foundations of mindfulness, and Right Concentration is concentration that brings the mind to the states of Jhana. Everyday activities require a basic level of mindfulness, alertness, and concentration, but many activities that are used to clear the mind or release stress are actually based on distraction or sensual pleasure. This means the mindfulness and concentration involved in those activities might be Wrong Mindfulness and Wrong Concentration in terms of the path. Narrow concentration on something that occupies interest and attention is a great form of distraction from stress, but that is not the same thing as directly identifying the stress and becoming familiar with the nature of the stress and its cause.
/.../

Great post, thank you!

SN 45.8: Magga-vibhanga Sutta wrote:And what, monks, is right mindfulness?
(i) There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body in & of itself — ardent, aware, & mindful — putting away greed & distress with reference to the world.
(ii) He remains focused on feelings in & of themselves — ardent, aware, & mindful — putting away greed & distress with reference to the world.
(iii) He remains focused on the mind in & of itself — ardent, aware, & mindful — putting away greed & distress with reference to the world.
(iv) He remains focused on mental qualities in & of themselves — ardent, aware, & mindful — putting away greed & distress with reference to the world. This, monks, is called right mindfulness.

I think driving a vehicle or exercising to improve physical skill and such are examples of cultivating greed & distress with reference to the world.
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Re: Mindfulness while doing complicated tasks

Postby JohnWB » Sun Mar 09, 2014 9:12 pm

This is very helpful.
:namaste:
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Re: Mindfulness while doing complicated tasks

Postby JeffR » Sun Mar 09, 2014 10:07 pm

binocular wrote:
SN 45.8: Magga-vibhanga Sutta wrote:And what, monks, is right mindfulness?
(i) There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body in & of itself — ardent, aware, & mindful — putting away greed & distress with reference to the world.
(ii) He remains focused on feelings in & of themselves — ardent, aware, & mindful — putting away greed & distress with reference to the world.
(iii) He remains focused on the mind in & of itself — ardent, aware, & mindful — putting away greed & distress with reference to the world.
(iv) He remains focused on mental qualities in & of themselves — ardent, aware, & mindful — putting away greed & distress with reference to the world. This, monks, is called right mindfulness.

I think driving a vehicle or exercising to improve physical skill and such are examples of cultivating greed & distress with reference to the world.

I think the key here is that right mindfulness is staying in the present ("...in & of themselves"). In order to do well at maneuvering the bike or catch the ball we are required to focus on and anticipate the future.

On my latest retreat, Ajahn stressed that if we go into the future it's a good sign concentration is poor. Even when the past comes up, it is a present object; the present object being Citta's recollection of the past. The future is something we make up, thoughts based in grasping (greed).

-Jeff
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Re: Mindfulness while doing complicated tasks

Postby binocular » Mon Mar 10, 2014 10:25 am

I've thought about this some more:

binocular wrote:I think driving a vehicle or exercising to improve physical skill and such are examples of cultivating greed & distress with reference to the world.

I suppose it depends on the intention with which one drives a vehicle or tries to improve physical skill.

Chances are that for an ordinary person, there will be a number of intentions at work in such an activity, some skillful, some unskillful, some moderately skillful.

For example, if the intention in trying to improve one's physical skills is to reduce some unnecessary suffering and pain, this seems skillful. Improving one's physical skills so that one can be better able to avoid collisions when driving a car seems like the responsible course of action to take. It isn't going to make one blissfully happy, of course.

Just like, to give another example, improving the skills of personal organization (daily and weekly planning etc.) isn't going to make one blissfully happy, but it can reduce some unnecessary suffering that would otherwise be due to missed deadlines and such.
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Re: Mindfulness while doing complicated tasks

Postby binocular » Mon Mar 10, 2014 10:35 am

JeffR wrote:On my latest retreat, Ajahn stressed that if we go into the future it's a good sign concentration is poor. Even when the past comes up, it is a present object; the present object being Citta's recollection of the past. The future is something we make up, thoughts based in grasping (greed).


Then how do you explain the advice to Rahula:

"Whenever you want to do a bodily/verbal/mental action, you should reflect on it: 'This bodily/verbal/mental action I want to do — would it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Would it be an unskillful bodily/verbal/mental action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it would lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it would be an unskillful bodily/verbal/mental action with painful consequences, painful results, then any bodily/verbal/mental action of that sort is absolutely unfit for you to do. But if on reflection you know that it would not cause affliction... it would be a skillful bodily/verbal/mental action with pleasant consequences, pleasant results, then any verbal action of that sort is fit for you to do.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: Mindfulness while doing complicated tasks

Postby JeffR » Tue Mar 11, 2014 4:26 am

binocular wrote:
JeffR wrote:On my latest retreat, Ajahn stressed that if we go into the future it's a good sign concentration is poor. Even when the past comes up, it is a present object; the present object being Citta's recollection of the past. The future is something we make up, thoughts based in grasping (greed).


Then how do you explain the advice to Rahula:

"Whenever you want to do a bodily/verbal/mental action, you should reflect on it: 'This bodily/verbal/mental action I want to do — would it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Would it be an unskillful bodily/verbal/mental action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it would lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it would be an unskillful bodily/verbal/mental action with painful consequences, painful results, then any bodily/verbal/mental action of that sort is absolutely unfit for you to do. But if on reflection you know that it would not cause affliction... it would be a skillful bodily/verbal/mental action with pleasant consequences, pleasant results, then any verbal action of that sort is fit for you to do.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Different situations.

Perhaps I'm bringing something into the conversation that doesn't belong. My reference is to sitting in Vipassana meditation. Being mindful while doing complicated tasks would not equate to the depth of concentration I referred to.
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Re: Mindfulness while doing complicated tasks

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Mar 11, 2014 9:31 am

JohnWB wrote: It feels like riding requires a large degree of focus and applying "more mindfulness" complicates things. I'm not sure if my thoughts and views on what mindfulness means are really accurate. :shrug:


When we become deliberately mindful it can feel a bit awkward. Also it depends on where we place our attention.
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