For our discussion next week, please consider practicing with one or both of these prompts from Insight Meditation Center’s
Eightfold Path program.
The Effort of Preventing
Reflect on the states of mind, trains of thought, desires, and intentions you commonly experience that you would be better off without. Under what circumstances are these most likely to occur? What do you need to avoid in order to lessen the likelihood of these occurring? In what appropriate ways can you avoid the circumstances that tend to bring them up?
Choose to avoid one thing this week that you know is a catalyst for the arising of unskillful states in you. Notice the benefits and costs of practicing avoidance. What do you learn about yourself through doing this practice?
In addition, twice during the week spend time practicing “safeguarding yourself at the sense doors.” This is the practice of staying attentive enough to the stimulus you receive that you can avoid reacting negatively. When you perceive a sight, sound, smell, taste, or touch that could trigger an unskillful mental state, recognize clearly what you are perceiving while also watching yourself. In this way, you can avoid getting involved with unskillful reactions to what you are seeing. This practice is most satisfying when it safeguards a state of mind that is peaceful, loving, or otherwise beneficial.
The Effort of Arousing
Make a list of three emotional states or attitudes that you think are worthwhile for you to cultivate.
What are the circumstances that tend to evoke these emotional states or attitudes in you? In what circumstances is it appropriate to intentionally arouse them? What wise ways do you know for arousing these states and attitudes? When is it beneficial to do this and when might it be counterproductive to do this?
Choose one skillful state and spend an entire day cultivating it. This could be, for example, friendliness, joy, compassion, gratitude, generosity, calm, or equanimity. Plan ahead by picking a day when you know you will have time to actively focus on arousing this state. You might prepare by creating some reminders on Post-It notes to help you keep the quality in mind, and by selecting some short reflections or readings to look at throughout the day. What do you learn by regularly cultivating the state over the course of a day?
Looking forward to practicing together at BIBS next week. The schedule is:
6:00 – 6:30 sitting
6:30 – 7:15 discussion
7:15 – 7:30 sitting
We meet at BIBS – location in the sidebar.