Appendix F

Awareness When You Aren't Meditating

As you go about your normal daily activities there are several things you can do throughout the day to bring your Awareness into the present moment and make subject into object – to make the shift into experiencing Witnessing Awareness as subject or “self.” Here are some possible ways to do this.

  • When strong difficult emotions arise, label the emotion and the thoughts that led to it. For example, if you are angry about an unfair situation, you might say to yourself, “I’m having the thought that this is not fair. I’m having the thought that s/he shouldn’t have treated me this way. I’m having the thought that I want to find some way to get even. And I see that when these thoughts arise, feelings of anger and indignation arise with them.” You can do this silently in your mind, or you can write it down.

  • When strong difficult emotions arise, meet them with the thought, “This is just an emotion. It’s not who I am.” Or, “This is just an emotion, and like all emotions, it will pass.”

  • In stressful situations, ask yourself, “Can I just be the space for this? Can I be the space it is arising within?”

  • When strong difficult emotions arise, use them as focus objects in a mini-meditation that you can do anywhere, either alone, or silently to yourself when you are in a public or group setting.

  1. Find where in your body you feel the emotion most strongly. For example, it may be a tightening in your stomach, a physical aching in your heart, a constriction in your throat, a tension in your neck and shoulders, or a clenched jaw. 

  2. Use the physical sensation in your body (rather than your breath or a mantra) as the focus of your mini-meditation. Just quietly observe the physical sensation. Don't try to get rid of it, and don't try to hold on to it. Just watch it.

  3. As with all meditation objects, you will likely soon get distracted from noticing this physical sensation. You may get lost in thoughts about what led to the emotion – thoughts about what angered or hurt or scared you. You may get lost in thoughts about what the feeling must "mean" about yourself, others, your life, etc. Or, you may get caught up in thoughts about something else to try to distract yourself from the unpleasant emotion. As soon as you realize that any of these things have happened, do the same thing you do with all meditation objects: just notice that your attention has wandered and gently bring it back to the physical sensation in your body.

  4. As you practice being fully present and witnessing whatever is occurring in the present moment, without trying to cling to or eliminate it, you will see in your own immediate experience that eventually every emotion passes, just as every thought does. All thoughts and emotions are temporary phenomena that arise and then pass away. Knowing this can give you perspective when a powerful difficult emotion arises, because you will have seen for yourself, repeatedly, that all emotions, no matter how powerful, are temporary, passing phenomena.

  • When you find yourself in situations where the analytical skills of the thinking mind are not needed (for example, when waiting in line or doing household chores), silently repeat your meditation mantra, synchronizing it with your breath.

  • Pause periodically throughout the day to close your eyes and just notice whatever sounds, smells, or physical sensations are present in your Awareness.