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Practice Notes
Daily notes on mindfulness practice.
Kevin Hu

February 12, 2016

Post-morning meditation: My mindfulness upon waking is inversely proxied by how quickly I check e-mail / chats after I wake up, and also my investment in those communications. With that measure, it’s painfully obvious that my mindfulness wears thin as the week unfolds. Mondays start off great, but come Wednesday or Thursday, I try to take account of the day only to think “oh shit, I didn’t even think of meditating.”
Supplanting will power is the chief role of habit. But when habit fails, rationality needs to step up. I love the quote along the lines of: “when you don’t think you need to meditate is when you need to meditate most.” Today I gently reminded myself of that notion, and opened my eyes after a standard 20 minute meditation feeling grateful for the nudge.

February 13, 2016

Mindfulness for others: I began meditating for selfish reasons. It’s appealing! Consistent practice promises feeling less rushed, transcending oneself, making steps towards enlightenment, etc. When life is going smoothly, it’s easy to take measures to make it go even smoother. No problems today? OK, let’s take on dispelling illusory notions of duality to round off the day.
Selfishness pays dividends, no doubt. When the currents are rough, I’m glad I equipped myself with spiritual munitions. But even more so, I’m reminded in difficult times that my own practice helps me treat others with mindfulness and respect. Instead of defaulting to self-centered thinking like “what do I feel about this situation” or “why can’t this person just understand me,” I am oriented towards trying to understand another’s perspective. Equanimity is contagious.
Practice without pretense: Growing up non-religious, I only understood evangelism from a theoretical perspective: “OK, if something brings me joy and peace, I would probably like to share it too.” It’s sort of a compliment, right? Being enthusiastic about data visualization or LIGO or the democratic primaries doesn’t fall under the same umbrella of trying to transmit the experiential. Well I’m struck by a recurring urge to evangelize meditation, and am bothered by that urge.

February 22, 2016

My logging has lapsed in the past week. While I’ve been practicing a mixture of guided and non-guided meditation in the 10-20 minute range, I have little account for that practice. So the utility of logging is obvious. But, after all, the point is not to leave a trail but to reflect on experience (e.g. the act of writing vs. having written something).
I’ve been on a Tara Brach bender, having just completed the “Calming and Opening” guided meditation she released on 12/10/15, a meditation I’ll definitely return to. While the structure of her guided meditations are similar to headspace (general awareness -> body scans -> breathing -> reminder to return to the breath -> reflection -> opening), her pacing seems less rushed.
Recently I’ve been played around with the quality and length of the breathe. In particular, Seung Sahn in Only Don’t Know speaks about a “clear mind” inhale and “don’t know” exhale. This pseudo-mantra has an innately calming quality that immediately points me towards the right direction in awareness-space.
I love finding these sorts of small “tricks” and using them to fill your mental arsenal when you, inevitably, could use a crutch. Sam Harris mentions in Waking Up that a truly gifted Dzogchen teacher paints a clear the path towards higher levels of awareness. That is, instead of groping (or rather, not groping) on an ill-defined path towards an unfamiliar goal, it is possible to have the next immediately steps be obvious in your mind. I’ve found that certain tricks make those next steps clear.
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Joichi Ito 4/6/2016
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Selfishness pays dividends, no doubt. When the currents are rough, I’m glad I equipped myself with spiritual munitions. But even more so, I’m reminded in difficult times that my own practice helps me treat others with mindfulness and respect. Instead of defaulting to self-centered thinking like “what do I feel about this situation” or “why can’t this person just understand me,” I am oriented towards trying to understand another’s perspective. Equanimity is contagious.
Selfishness
It’s interesting to think of selfishness in the context of how empathy and helping others makes us feel good. One of the great meditation visualizations is to visualize making people happy.