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Mindfulness and Intention

by on September 5, 2013

One way to test how aware we are of our mind’s activity is to look into intention.  Here’s a simple example of getting out of bed in the morning: our alarm rings, time is noted, the alarm is turned off.  Lying in bed our mind and body slowly wake up.  Sensing bodily tiredness one notices a desire to linger longer in bed.  Yet, one remembers the reason for the need to get up.  Slowly, the mind formulates the intention to get up out of bed. The body responds and gets up.  This simple exercise shows us how intention precedes action, directing the body towards our aims and goals.

When Buddha considered sharing what he learned from his practice, the first teaching he did was in Varanasi, India on the Four Noble Truths, there is suffering, the cause of suffering is ignorance, there is cessation of suffering, and the way out of suffering is the Noble Eightfold Path.  Within the Noble Eightfold Path, the second teaching is “Right Intention.”

Right Intention is threefold: the intention of renunciation (to attachment or aversion), the intention of good will, and the intention of harmlessness.  For us, investigating how intention can be used to mindfully awake to our obstructions and our suffering can lead us to liberation of our deepest issues.

How can this be done?  Start with identifying where you are stuck.  What makes you unhappy?  What thoughts do you continually repeat in your mind?  With clear knowledge of your obstruction, as you wake up from your night’s rest, state your intention to wake up, to seeing your obstruction or destructive mind habit (such as judging) during the day.  You can also add a post-it note on the bathroom mirror or set a reminder on your smartphone.  Most likely you will experience seeing your obstruction show up during the day.  Note it, then, let it go.  Continue practicing like this as frequently as you can mindfully tend to experiencing your intention.  You may be able to study the obstruction only a day or one week.  When your interest wanes, identify a new one.

Liberation is within our hands.  Using the natural capability of the mind to aid us on our path empowers us in our effort toward awakening.


From → Zen Buddhism

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