Developing constant awareness

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Simon T., modified 9 Years ago.

Developing constant awareness

Posts: 381 Join Date: 9/13/11 Recent Posts
Since a few weeks, I try in everyday situations to replace my thoughts by a form of awareness. The best example is when I take a shower. I try to develop the sense of an observer to replace the sense of an actor. I pay attention to the movement of my hands and try to notice that I'm not actually conscious of every movement that I do. When the feeling of controlling my hands reappear, I close my eyes two seconds, pay attention to the "blackness" and open them again. Then, I pay attention to what my hands have been doing when my attention was away from them and how even if I'm aware of the current movement, my intention is subconscious.

Do you see this as a useful practice? Have you any advice to provide?

thanks you all.
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Tommy M, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Developing constant awareness

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
What you describe sound like insight practice to me, and I thoroughly recommend bringing this into daily life, but a few tweaks could be made which can, hopefully, allow you to make quicker progress.

I try in everyday situations to replace my thoughts by a form of awareness.

Awareness is what's there already, thoughts are just objects arising and passing away so don't try to "replace" them; acknowledge them, observe the Three Characteristic in real-time and move on. Remember, if you can see it then it can't be what's doing the seeing.

I try to develop the sense of an observer to replace the sense of an actor.

Rather than doing this, pay attention to which sensations imply that there's an observer there in the first place.

I pay attention to the movement of my hands and try to notice that I'm not actually conscious of every movement that I do.

This is an insight in itself, you're seeing impermanence in a really clear way here. Remember that you can't observe two things at once, insight practice shows this to be true so perhaps try just noting when you're aware of the intention to move, and then the movement itself. When you're not aware of this, what are you aware of? Note that!

When the feeling of controlling my hands reappear, I close my eyes two seconds, pay attention to the "blackness" and open them again.

Why do you close your eyes? Did you notice the intent to close your eyes? Did you note "blackness", or the intention to open them again? Note everything that appears in awareness.

Then, I pay attention to what my hands have been doing when my attention was away from them and how even if I'm aware of the current movement, my intention is subconscious.

So, you're looking to the past for insight rather than investigating what's going on right now? Be aware of the current movement, not what's gone before, not what might come next. Be immediate.
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Simon T., modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Developing constant awareness

Posts: 381 Join Date: 9/13/11 Recent Posts
Thanks. I take note of all this and will experience with your suggestions. The reason that I try to "replace my thoughts" is that having ADHD my thoughts drive me crazy most of the time, to the point of making me non-functional. As Kornfield says it, I try to rest my mind in awareness. I do that all the time I'm awake now (unless I completely loose control of my thoughts, then I curl into a ball). Most of my thoughts are useless most of the time.

I see thoughts as a way to resolve contradiction in the mind. They become obsessions for optimization of my life. Planning in the face of irrational fear.
End in Sight, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Developing constant awareness

Posts: 1251 Join Date: 7/6/11 Recent Posts
Simon T.:
The reason that I try to "replace my thoughts" is that having ADHD my thoughts drive me crazy most of the time, to the point of making me non-functional. As Kornfield says it, I try to rest my mind in awareness. I do that all the time I'm awake now (unless I completely loose control of my thoughts, then I curl into a ball). Most of my thoughts are useless most of the time.


As I have described in a previous thread, I had attentional issues in the past which may have been similar in some way to what you're describing. I never found a good solution for this problem other than a lot of meditation.

However, if I were to advise myself in the past, I would have advised myself to develop mindfulness of the body, rather than replacing one kind of dysfunctional thought with something else. Can you keep your attention on the feeling of your skin at certain regions of your body? Or, if you don't have that sensitivity yet, on the feeling of your clothes against your body? Or something along those lines? Just the feeling, no thinking about it (but you may end up thinking about it anyway, which is OK). You might have to develop the ability to remember to keep paying attention to certain areas, but I suspect it will develop in time, and would be quite grounding (as well as good meditation practice).
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Simon T., modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Developing constant awareness

Posts: 381 Join Date: 9/13/11 Recent Posts
The body is pretty much my main object of mindfulness. Since I have anxiety, I'm always looking for the part of my body that is tense to relax it. As you said, I ground it. I use touch when I try to fall asleep and the dancing white color when my eyes are closed. I find this easier than focussing on the breath. What's good about looking at the closed-eyes visual is that it's physically close to where we feel thoughts arise so it make it easier to pay attention to thoughts too. The tension I have in the head is an important point of focus too. Paying attention to a continuous sound when there is one is also helpful. I use whatever work.
End in Sight, modified 9 Years ago.

RE: Developing constant awareness

Posts: 1251 Join Date: 7/6/11 Recent Posts
Simon T.:
The body is pretty much my main object of mindfulness. Since I have anxiety, I'm always looking for the part of my body that is tense to relax it. As you said, I ground it. I use touch when I try to fall asleep and the dancing white color when my eyes are closed. I find this easier than focussing on the breath. What's good about looking at the closed-eyes visual is that it's physically close to where we feel thoughts arise so it make it easier to pay attention to thoughts too. The tension I have in the head is an important point of focus too. Paying attention to a continuous sound when there is one is also helpful. I use whatever work.


I would recommend doing what you describe, but without worrying about the issue of whether you are the actor or the observer or pure awareness or anything like that. Just notice the body.

You will not feel yourself to be the actor or the observer or pure awareness when the only thing that is noticed is the body. Not before. emoticon

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