Living mindfully might all seem to be about being in the present but there is an important aspect of mindfulness that involves considering the future so that we can prepare for it and act accordingly.
We should be mindful of whatever behaviours may arise in us, night or day, and then consider which are to be done and which avoided (ie we are preparing our mind for what it may face and how we should react). Then, when we are in the present and living out those situations and behaviours, engaging in those that should be done (like being generous or patient) or turning away from things to be avoided (being angry or miserly) we do so “mindfully” and “vigilantly” with the thought “now I am being patient and generous” or “now I am turning away from anger and instead offering love and compassion”.
So what are we doing here? We are firstly “meditating” (remember meditating isn’t just what we do when we sit on the meditation cushion!) on a whole series of issues like contemplating what is right and wrong (10 virtues and non virtues, 6 Paramitas etc); then considering how we are going to put them into practice when a future event / situation arises; and finally we are actually putting them into practice which is exactly what Buddhism is all about – practice!!! Through this approach we slowly and surely break negative habitual behaviour patterns and replace them new positive ones. We are also changing our internal dialogue as we “prepare” AND as we live out situations and events in the “moment”.
Take an example. Let’s say tomorrow we have got to go to a family gathering and we know Uncle Tom, who always seems to be rude and provocative, is going to be there! Here we can start to consider what might happen, what he might say and how we might react! But rather than getting into a tizzy and worrying all night about having to go to the event, instead we contemplate what behaviours we should avoid and which ones we should adopt (Note: remember we are 100% focussed here on us and our actions and words. We are NOT judging or trying to change Uncle Tom, quite the opposite we will be practicing “acceptance”!!)
Then the next day when we meet Uncle Tom perhaps we do so with a compassionate smile (knowing deep down he is grumpy because he is lonely, or whatever, and come what may he is under the control of negative emotions, it isn’t that he is inherently “bad” etc.). Later he comes over and says something that we feel is insulting by saying we are lazy or whatever (he always says that doesn’t he!!) but rather then getting angry or feeling hurt we think “I am now rejecting anger and instead I am practicing patience” and we say to Uncle Tom “yes your probably right I really must do better”, or whatever, but always with the intention of not trying de defend our “ego”, having to be “right” or “having the last word”!!
Makes sense doesn’t it?
As the saying goes “practice makes perfect”!!
This article contains my humble opinions and thoughts and should not be mistaken for the wisdom of my teacher, the Venerable Geshe Tsering Palden, or any other fully qualified Buddhist teacher or Guru. My only aim in writing this Blog is to try and train my mind in the path of the Buddha and if by so doing I am able to benefit others I dedicate all merits for the relief of suffering of all sentient beings.
Note: Any error in this text is entirely attributable to me, and only to me, and should never be attributable to the perfect teachings of Dharma. I sincerely apologise for any mistakes.