Laurens wrote:Right now I often find myself doing OK on the cushion, but not too long after finding myself caught up in greed, hatred and delusion. Is this the practice? The fact that I notice myself in these states? Or is there more of a concious effort to be made on my part?
As the others have suggested, there are steps you can take to cultivate mindfulness throughout the day as you go about your activities. For me, I try to be mindful when I am walking from one place to another. I also try to be mindful when I go about my daily chores. However, in my experience, it seems inevitable that such negative mindstates become more apparent as we start to meditate regularly. It certainly happened to me when I first started, and in fact it still happens.
When certain conditions are present, such mindstates will inevitably arise. But we may not be aware of these mindstates if we didn't make an effort to meditate regularly. Based on the advice I've heard (e.g. various Dhamma talks), this act of recognition is very important. The more we are able to recognise these mindstates the less power they have over us. For me, I find that I do not act out these mindstates as quickly as before. Or if I do--say, I lash out at someone in anger--I find that I come out of anger more quickly than before. And when I do so, I stop feeding the conditions that produce these mindstates.
So yes, I would say that this is part of the practice, but at the same time continued effort is needed. In one of Bhikkhu Bodhi's talks, he mentions that we cannot really control the mindstates that arise. We can really only work at setting the right conditions for relinquishing or developing mindstates.
So while we need to make a conscious effort to return to the cushion regularly, we also need to make an effort in other areas: i.e. to have compassion towards ourselves when we behave unskillfully, and to develop other aspects of the path like dana
. These things are not strictly 'meditation' but are nevertheless vital in shaping the conditions for unwholesome mindstates to fall away and wholesome ones to arise.