Awaken From Your Robotic Existence
Making progress in your life in professional, personal and spiritual areas is directly relative to your presence of mind. But what is progress and productivity? What you really want to attain is true productivity.
You can be robotic person or even a machine and produce a great deal, but we are talking about quality of life, of being and of consciousness. I don’t think you want to be a machine. Maybe the work-a-day world does, or your employer, but you don’t. You aren’t a robot and you need to learn to free yourself from the robot mind.
All your dawdling, distraction, your automatic emotional reactions and unproductive behaviors are due to you not being present. Our minds are engineered to learn and record behaviors so that we can build skills or other abilities into our nature, so that when we are called upon to do something by a stimulus, we have an automatic response. Unfortunately, that means that we can tend to become very much uninvolved in our own lives, meaning not particularly conscious or present, and our ability to actually choose our behaviors – and choose alternatives that are better – is diminished.
These recorded behaviors turn into habits, and the less present we are in our moment to moment living our lives, the less we will be able to change our behavior, break, modify or learn habits, and that includes being more productive and progressing personally and even spiritually. It has become clear to me that mindfulness is perfectly tuned to resolve this problem.
In my own journey to become more productive and to progress more in my personal and spiritual growth I have come to the conclusion that one of the most powerful things you can do to empower yourself to change or to take corrective or productive action is to practice mindfulness meditation. It sounds so meek, too simple, too unrelated to anything you are aiming to do with your life, but in reality it is most powerfully central to everything you want and need to do. That’s because what mindfulness meditation does is it brings you INTO your life as a conscious, present and awakened being.
What I have observed it does is it builds a sense of self in your own mind. This doesn’t mean it makes you more aware of who you are, although that is part of what it does. It seems to literally bring you into your mind and life. It also puts that awakened point of presence of mind in a vantage point relative to all the automatic behaviors so that you can see them in a somewhat objective way, and because mindfulness builds your sense of will and sense of what you are and what you are not, you will find yourself able to choose not to behave in certain ways that you may have had on automatic, and to choose other actions thoughts and feelings that are more representative of what you prefer in your life.
So, how do you practice mindfulness? There are an infinite number of ways, but what will work for you is what you will do, there are ways to make that easier.
One thing I’ve found usefully to practice it in a place where there are fewer things that might divert you into a different activity. I could practice in my home, but I find it better if I go for a walk. Then I am limited to walking and meditation, and can’t go get a snack, pick up a book, sit at the computer or pet the cat or whatever.
It’s important to remember that you are practicing at learning mindfulness, and maybe for a long time, so you will not necessarily be good at it soon. So, apply mindfulness to your slips out of and returns to mindfulness. Thus you turn your failures to be mindful into part of the mindfulness practice. Be mindful that you discovered you were attending to some other thoughts, then be mindful of returning to your object of mindfulness and continue.
Don’t think you need to have a quiet place to practice mindfulness. There are Buddhist monks who practice this meditation on busy city streets. Even in a formal meditation center, where people may be making this noise or that, or you hear sounds from outside – these do not matter. This meditation is not about others not disturbing you but about you being mindful. It is not their responsibility for your mind to be focused. That is yours. If you hear noises or people are “not respecting” your meditation time, and you let it bother you or move you out of mindfulness, then that is all your doing. You disturbed yourself. Take all sounds and make them part of your meditation to the degree you notice them. Observe you were distracted and then return to your object of mindfulness.
Your object of mindfulness may be anything. Tradition in Buddhism is to observe the breath, but also everything. Really, the best mindfulness is of everything in every moment. But for starters you can practice on the breath as it enters and exits your nose, or the rise and fall of your chest and belly as you breath. Sometimes it’s better to have a stronger stimulus to observe. Sound is a good thing. Just listen and hear, without thinking about what you are hearing. I also like to walk very slowly and feel the shift of weight from one foot to the other. What would take me fifteen seconds to walk at a normal pace takes me twenty minutes in mindfulness.
I have faith this can help you greatly. Remember that if you are not being mindful you are likely on automatic, like a robot. That is no way to live. I could say it is not living at all, and productive in ways you prefer.