Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness (pp. 167-178)
As the Buddha noted, we can direct our effort in four ways:
- Prevent the arising of unwholesome states of mind.
- Overcome unwholesome states which have arisen.
- Strive for wholesome states to arise.
- Maintain those wholesome states which have arisen.
Overcoming Negative States of Mind
Our states of mind (thoughts) arise selflessly (uncontrolled by us). Once a negative thought arises, we can use Right Effort to overcome it before it proliferates in the multiple negative thoughts.
Overcoming the Hindrances
The Hindrances include greed, ill-will, dullness and drowsiness, restlessness and worry, and doubt
There are various steps to take:
- If it has just arisen, just notice it as a negative thought and often it will fade away.
- If it has already gained strength, use complete mindfulness (paying attention moment to moment to what is).
- Pay attention to bodily sensations and all thoughts.
- Pay attention to the impermanent nature of the thought.
- Know that it will fade away and change over time.
Alternative methods include:
- Ignoring it – this is hard to do unless you can know the impermanence of thoughts.
- Diverting the mind to something else – such as thoughts or counting (below)
- Replacing the Hindrance by its opposite (greed-generosity, ill-will-loving kindness, dullness and drowsiness-energy, restlessness and worry-patience, doubt-patience).
- Reflecting on the nature of hindrances to have multiple causes – know that you can’t always know the cause or causes.
- With clenched teeth, pressing the tongue against the upper palate to apply all of your energy to overcome it.
If all else fails, resort to a counting concentration mediation by counting the breaths from 1-10, then 10-1, then 1-9, then 9-1 and so on.
- Each day, re-read this talk and reflect on it.
- When a hindrance arises, try the methods above to overcome it.
- What do you find?