This section is dedicated to questions on Mindfulness Meditation from many students all over the world. If you have a question that you would like to ask you can ask it here: Contact Stephen
thankyou and take care,
QUESTION from Hive: I have noticed that whenever i pay attention to a thought it immediately stops? or any other thing that happens when the mind wanders
ANSWER: When you are mindful of a thought and turn your attention towards its characteristics your participation in it stops and the energy is withdrawn. Thinking needs participation to continue, generally this participation is some form of emotional charge, observing rather then participating in a thought withdraws additional energy and eventually the thinking comes to a stop in the same way an arrow eventually falls to the ground when it is not longer pushed by a bow. In some cases this is instant, if you are really attached to the thought it can take longer for the energy to cease.
Are Daydreams Harmful?
QUESTION from Christian: thank you for the reassurance. I'll will continue to train and practice. I know you must be a busy man, but I have only one more question. Now that I know it is best to try and live only in the present. It is harmful to daydream? I tend to do that a lot. I guess it might be because it brings me comfort, or some type of distraction.
ANSWER: Whether the daydream is harmful or not will depend on what you are dreaming about, if the daydream is fantasising about experiencing or having something in your life other then what you already have right now then it can cause future pain. This is because every time you fantasise in this way you are training the habitual tendencies in your brain to experience discontentment and aversion to what is happening in your life right now. This desire to experience something other then your present reality will lead to a continual sense of lack in your life.
If you are fantasising about getting away from your current experience then this mental running away is also based on aversion and will also be training the habitual tendencies of your brain to be more likely to experience discontentment to what is happening in your life right now. Thoughts based on desire and aversion are both extremes and two sides of the same coin, one cannot exist without the other, they are like either side of a see - saw going up and down as equal opposites, it is only when we stop chasing pleasant experience and running away from unpleasant experience that the mind comes into balance and we experience equanimity.
Within this balance not based on these two extremes we find deep contentment and peace, from this happiness arises, a happiness not based on our external life situation but instead on our relationship to it, therefore it cannot be disturbed by the outside world. The problem with these two extremes is that they are always focussed towards the past or the future and totally ignore your present reality. When you are lost in a daydream your awareness of reality becomes very low and you are literally not conscious of reality for that period of time. During these unconscious periods our brain defaults to auto pilot, living through the habitual mental patterns that we have cultivated and through taking this path reinforce them through exercising them.
The problem is not so much the daydreaming but the habitual mental patterns that we are cultivating while indulging in them. Every thought, speech and action we perform is creating who we are, how we perceive and relate to the world, it is through these practiced perceptions that we view the world and through which we interpret the information that comes into our brain through our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, touch and mind. We create our own world, our own nightmare or happiness.
Another downside of indulging in daydreaming and thinking is we miss the experience of each moment as we are not present to it as it arises. Each moment is new, unique, interesting and full of jy, focussing on anything other then each moment means we are missing what life is offering us, swapping it for a reality that doesn't exist. Daydreaming is not a problem, just the danger of the delusion through the cultivating of low awareness, we just need to decide what we value the most.
Being vividly alive or living life as if we were dead, I hope this makes sense to you
Training the Mind
QUESTION from Christian: After reading this I took some time to reflect and monitor what my mind thinks about. It's spot on , on what you said. It's amazing how some of us just allow our minds to wander and do as it pleases. Only to wind up in a state of pain and desperation. I understand now how important it is to build a relationship with our minds "so to speak". Vigilance is crucial when allowing yourself to partake in the activities of your imagination. I am thankful for the lessons you have taught. Patience is one thing I must learn. It is one important thing that I lack. I am not not confident that I have yet obtained the tools necessary to build upon it. Not sure if you have already had a seminar explaining this. I would be grateful if you can point me in the right direction.
I hope you may come to see me as a student. I would be grateful to have you as a teacher
ANSWER:- Mindfulness Meditation has the tools that you need if you want to develop patience, meditation cultivates patience. When you are meditating, putting effort into being Mindful of what you are experiencing in each moment, every time you forget what you are doing, every time you drop the meditation object you have the opportunity to develop the quality of patience. This is how meditation works.
When your mind wanders do not get upset with it or yourself, use it as an opportunity to develop understanding of yourself and your relationship to life. Every time you notice that your mind has wandered, that you are not meditating, at that very point you are being Mindful, you are meditating again. Mindfulness meditation is remembering "this is what I am experiencing now" if that experience is that you are distracted, that your attention has wandered, then that is the object of meditation in that moment, what you are being aware of.
Stillness & Dullness
QUESTION from Dream: Thanks once again for an excellent lecture!
What is the difference between the "stillness" and the dullness you described earlier in the video?
ANSWER:- Hi Dream,The stillness that we experience during meditation comes from a heightening of awareness, so as our mind becomes concentrated the
awareness of the meditation object develops and clarity increases. Mental dullness or sinking mind that we experience during meditation comes when we become too concentrated on one object and the energy levels become too low. As the mind sinks the awareness becomes lower, the clarity dulls and the ability to experience any object becomes difficult, we enter into a dull peaceful void. If the energy completely collapses we will enter into a dreamlike state and possibly fall asleep.