Doing it slowly..

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Doing it slowly..

Postby imagemarie » Mon Sep 21, 2009 8:41 am

Hi :anjali:

On a couple of retreats, I've noticed the odd individual :smile: extending a very , very slow walking practice, to other activities (cooking, washing-up.. ),and moving almost robotically.
To anyone unfamiliar with this methodology, it looks like "Buddhist " affectation, which I suppose in a way it is :tongue:

Does anyone employ the go slow practice (on or off retreat), and is it worthwhile cultivating as an aid to mindfulness?
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Re: Doing it slowly..

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Sep 21, 2009 9:34 am

Mahasi-school teachers recommend maintaining mindfulness continuously, and this is easier to do if you do things slowly and deliberately. Of course, this may not fit well with the method you usually use...


In This Very Life: The Liberation Teachings of the Buddha
Sayādaw U Pandita

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/pesala/Pan ... Continuity
THREE: UNBROKEN CONTINUITY

Persevering continuity of mindfulness is the third essential factor in developing the controlling faculties. One should try to be with the moment as much as possible, moment after moment, without any breaks in between. In this way mindfulness can be established, and its momentum can increase. Defending our mindfulness prevents the kilesas, the harmful and painful qualities of greed, hatred and delusion, from infiltrating and carrying us off into oblivion. It is a fact of life that the kilesas cannot arise in the presence of strong mindfulness. When the mind is free of kilesas, it becomes unburdened, light and happy.

Do whatever is necessary to maintain continuity. Do one action at a time. When you change postures, break down the movement into single units and note each unit with the utmost care. When you arise from sitting, note the intention to open the eyelids, and then the sensations that occur when the lids begin to move. Note lifting the hand from the knee, shifting the leg, and so on. Throughout the day, be fully aware of even the tiniest actions — not just sitting, standing, walking and lying, but also closing your eyes, turning your head, turning doorknobs and so forth.

Apart from the hours of sleeping, yogis on retreat should be continuously mindful. Continuity should be so strong, in fact, that there is no time at all for reflection, no hesitation, no thinking, no reasoning, no comparing of one’s experiences with the things one has read about meditation — just time enough to apply this bare awareness.

http://aimwell.org/

Mike
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Re: Doing it slowly..

Postby appicchato » Mon Sep 21, 2009 9:34 am

Several people I know swear by it...I'm not one of them... :smile:
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Re: Doing it slowly..

Postby Sanghamitta » Mon Sep 21, 2009 11:25 am

I think its definately a " taste it and see " approach. I too know people who find it useful, and it is certainly widely taught. On an admittedly brief trial though, it didnt do much for me. But the I am quite slow at those type of activities anyway. I can imagine it could be very useful for "speedy ", task orientated , people.
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Re: Doing it slowly..

Postby Guy » Mon Sep 21, 2009 12:40 pm

Hi Marie,

I have found that slowing down definitely increases my mindfulness and I have found it quite beneficial. Some days I have gone nearly every minute of the day with sustained awareness of bodily movements, postures and feelings but I seem to rush a lot lately and am less mindful as a result. It is something I have been thinking about a bit lately, craving for how mindful I was in the past, which of course is pointless since while I am busy craving for past experiences the present moment keeps slipping away.

The following Ajahn Chah quote comes to mind: "Try to be mindful and let things take their natural course and your mind will become like a still forest pool".

With Metta,

Guy
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Re: Doing it slowly..

Postby Jechbi » Mon Sep 21, 2009 4:29 pm

It can look pretty odd. One thing I noticed on a recent retreat is that I actually slowed down for a little while. I usually walk fast, but uncharacteristically, on this occasion I caught myself walking slowly as others passed me on the path. I didn't really decide to walk slowly, and I don't think I was going so slow that it was odd. But who knows? Maybe the folks around me thought I was "one of them."

Any way, this might not relate to your situation at all, but what I figured was that if other folks want to walk slow, eat slow, whatever, I'm not going to assume any more that they're doing it on purpose, or because they're trying to achieve some kind of moment-to-moment awareness. Maybe they're just slow at that particular juncture during the retreat.

Bottom line: This is a good question for your teacher. On the retreats I attend, slow-walking is not part of the practice, although of course we're all encourage to be mindful at all times, no matter what we're doing.
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Re: Doing it slowly..

Postby genkaku » Mon Sep 21, 2009 4:39 pm

Not sure how relevant this may be, but ....

When I was a kid, I was skiing once. As I climbed back up the hill at one point, a man I did not know called me over to him and said, in essence, "Look, any dummy can ski fast. It takes a good skiier to ski slow." I tried it ... and I can't tell you how many times I ended up on my butt that afternoon.

'Slow' nourishes attention and care and skill. But making a fetish out of it is not much better than the dummy who can ski fast.

Just my take.
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Re: Doing it slowly..

Postby Sanghamitta » Mon Sep 21, 2009 5:47 pm

Jechbi wrote:It can look pretty odd. One thing I noticed on a recent retreat is that I actually slowed down for a little while. I usually walk fast, but uncharacteristically, on this occasion I caught myself walking slowly as others passed me on the path. I didn't really decide to walk slowly, and I don't think I was going so slow that it was odd. But who knows? Maybe the folks around me thought I was "one of them."

Any way, this might not relate to your situation at all, but what I figured was that if other folks want to walk slow, eat slow, whatever, I'm not going to assume any more that they're doing it on purpose, or because they're trying to achieve some kind of moment-to-moment awareness. Maybe they're just slow at that particular juncture during the retreat.

Bottom line: This is a good question for your teacher. On the retreats I attend, slow-walking is not part of the practice, although of course we're all encourage to be mindful at all times, no matter what we're doing.


On retreats were I have seen it done, it was announced before hand that it would form part of the retreat ( Which wasnt Mahasi, but incoporated elememts of that ) for those who wanted to practice that way, it wasnt an individual whimsical choice. I once arrived at the door of a room where everyone was slow walking being led by a Bhikkhu, they all marched forward eyes on the ground more or less in unison and because of the nature of the building they were just above my eye level as I walked up the stairs. It was memorable.... :smile:
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Re: Doing it slowly..

Postby imagemarie » Mon Sep 21, 2009 10:07 pm

Thanks, everyone :anjali:

THREE: UNBROKEN CONTINUITY
Do whatever is necessary to maintain continuity. Do one action at a time. When you change postures, break down the movement into single units and note each unit with the utmost care. When you arise from sitting, note the intention to open the eyelids, and then the sensations that occur when the lids begin to move. Note lifting the hand from the knee, shifting the leg, and so on. Throughout the day, be fully aware of even the tiniest actions — not just sitting, standing, walking and lying, but also closing your eyes, turning your head, turning doorknobs and so forth.
Apart from the hours of sleeping, yogis on retreat should be continuously mindful. Continuity should be so strong, in fact, that there is no time at all for reflection, no hesitation, no thinking, no reasoning, no comparing of one’s experiences with the things one has read about meditation — just time enough to apply this bare awareness.



I don't think I could sustain this practice for very long.. it sounds like real ego-busting stuff. Almost like breaking a horse. Is this why folk are averse to it? And can this "bare awareness" be applied to vedana, citta and dhamma's too? I must admit my own practice is lacking in "attention, care and skill" - though I do "slow" with some panache :lol:

Also, I agree that people do generally slow down on retreat. Their actions are less driven, less "self" seeking. And just "being" is sufficient :smile:
A fellow retreatant remarked to me that coming back from a group country walk, "felt" like returning as part of a herd of cows! :smile:
But that's not quite the aspiration is it? :tongue:
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Re: Doing it slowly..

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Sep 21, 2009 10:43 pm

imagemarie wrote:I don't think I could sustain this practice for very long.. it sounds like real ego-busting stuff.

Well, that's the point, isn't it? To see through the sense of self... :thinking:

Remember that this is a talk by U Pandita addressing a group of experienced meditators who had done numerous retreats before. I wouldn't advise going straight to that level of intensity.

If you listen to a few of Joseph Goldstein's talks interesting little anecdotes about that retreat will pop up.

One was, if I recall correctly, that Sharon Salzberg went through a period there where U Pandita would keep asking her about little things that were cleverly designed to be not things that she had paid attention to: "How did you feel brushing your teeth this morning?". "Ummm..." end of interview. Next day she was ready for the teeth question, but the first question was: "How did you feel when you bowed just now when you came in?", "Ummm...". And so on, until she learned to pay attention to everything...

My teachers have never been quite so intense, but one of them sometimes asks little things, like if we can remember which finger moved first when we unclasped our hands when moving from walking to sitting meditation. Partly to make clear that there is a lot that we don't notice.

Anyway, bear in mind that this is part of a whole package. It doesn't necessarily work to try to pick out bits of different practises and bolt them together... Pay attention to your teacher...

Also, after you've spent several days on retreat not talking, just meditating and paying attention, it becomes a lot easier and more natural. This applies to all techniques, of course. Don't judge any of them by what you can do by practising for an hour or two a day...

Mike
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Re: Doing it slowly..

Postby zavk » Tue Sep 22, 2009 1:05 am

Guy wrote:Hi Marie,
The following Ajahn Chah quote comes to mind: "Try to be mindful and let things take their natural course and your mind will become like a still forest pool".

:twothumbsup:

Jechbi wrote:It can look pretty odd. One thing I noticed on a recent retreat is that I actually slowed down for a little while. I usually walk fast, but uncharacteristically, on this occasion I caught myself walking slowly as others passed me on the path. I didn't really decide to walk slowly, and I don't think I was going so slow that it was odd. But who knows? Maybe the folks around me thought I was "one of them."


This has been my experience too. I have never made a conscious effort to move slowly but I seem to ease into 'slow motion mode' quite naturally when I'm in a contemplative environment like on retreat and sometimes when I'm alone at home.

mikenz66 wrote:One was, if I recall correctly, that Sharon Salzberg went through a period there where U Pandita would keep asking her about little things that were cleverly designed to be not things that she had paid attention to: "How did you feel brushing your teeth this morning?". "Ummm..." end of interview. Next day she was ready for the teeth question, but the first question was: "How did you feel when you bowed just now when you came in?", "Ummm...". And so on, until she learned to pay attention to everything...


Yeah I've read/heard about this. It's a great anecdote!

mikenz66 wrote:Anyway, bear in mind that this is part of a whole package. It doesn't necessarily work to try to pick out bits of different practises and bolt them together... Pay attention to your teacher...

Also, after you've spent several days on retreat not talking, just meditating and paying attention, it becomes a lot easier and more natural. This applies to all techniques, of course. Don't judge any of them by what you can do by practising for an hour or two a day...
Mike


:twothumbsup:
With metta,
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Re: Doing it slowly..

Postby Sanghamitta » Tue Sep 22, 2009 8:22 am

" Dont judge any of them by what you can do practising an hour or two a day "

So important, vital actually. I think retreats are the lifeblood of Theravadin practice.
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Re: Doing it slowly..

Postby imagemarie » Tue Sep 22, 2009 9:10 am

Anyway, bear in mind that this is part of a whole package


Yes - indeed. Thanks, Mike, that's very helpful.
I'm not really advocating a smorgasbord approach to practice. Perhaps sometimes looking at the meals of other diners and thinking..yeah, that looks tasty :tongue: Maybe my diet is lacking in that :tongue: As in metabolism perhaps, change happens at the molecular level. And I'm not really lacking anything.
As mother's like to say "Your eyes are bigger than your stomach" :jumping:

All down to impatience and grasping for becoming..

Mmmm...but your entree looks good! :smile:
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Re: Doing it slowly..

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Sep 22, 2009 9:31 am

I do sometimes slow down, but more as an aid to getting my mindfulness back to what im doing, if I have problems for a moment, it is something I would recomend doing as appropriate but cooking isn't one of the situations, as being fast is the virtue in this case, and a safer/easier to wash up, way of doing it, and it is a habit for me while cooking anyway now since I was a chef for a couple of years.
I don't go particularly slow, but instead of walking at 2 miles an hour I walk at 1mph just half my spead for a little while and the same goes for slowing down for me as a rule of thumb I employ for it.
number one rule for anything is appropriateness, and part of this is safety.
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