Teacher : So…have you been practicing as I have taught?
Student : Yes, sir. Apart from my timed sittings, I have also been trying to be aware of the times when I feel happy, sad or angry.
Teacher : And have you been successful?
Student : Not really. There are times when it takes me days before I realized that I am feelinghappy or sad. But there were also times when I was able to catch it almost immediately.
Teacher : When mindfulness is strong, you will be able to notice the change in your moods quickly. When mindfulness is weak, you may not even realize that you are being made a fool by your emotions.
Student : What is mindfulness?
Teacher : The very instance that your mind becomes aware about a change in its state (eg. from happy to sad), that is the moment you have mindfulness. The moment that you “know” is when you are mindful.
Student : So, it is the moment when I know that my mind has drifted from my breath to a thought. Or the moment when I know I am feeling happy or sad. Correct?
Teacher : Yes. That is correct.
Student : I have another question. Sometimes when I try to sit in meditation, I get a lot of aches and pains, especially in my legs and my back. When that happens, I find it hard to concentrate.
Teacher : When there are aches, is the mind calm or agitated?
Student : Oh…It is agitated, for sure!
Teacher : If it is agitated, is there suffering?
Student : There is suffering.
Teacher : If that is the case, then you should make the effort to observe the mind when it is in a state of agitation and be aware that “this is suffering”.
Student : Okay. But, sir, just being aware about the pains does not solve my aches. In fact, it seems to be getting worse because I’m so fixated by it.
Teacher : Being aware is always the first step. Now, tell me what will ease your suffering.
Student : A change in position, sir.
Teacher : Then, on knowing that a change in position will relieve suffering, you should mindfully change positions.
Student : Ahhh…
Teacher : Now that you have shifted, is there still pain?
Student : No, sir. The change in positions has eased the pain.
Teacher : When there is no pain, is the mind calm or agitated?
Student : It is calm.
Teacher : When it is calm, is there suffering or not?
Student : There is no suffering.
Teacher : Very good. You have just experienced suffering and the release from suffering.
Student : Does that mean every time my leg aches, I can shift positions?
Teacher : Only after you make yourself aware of it.
Student : Okay.
Teacher : Most times, we are not aware of when we are scratching to relieve an itch, or shifting our sitting positions to relieve an ache. In fact, many are not even aware about their in and out breaths. Meditation aims to make you more aware of your own body. When you are eating, know that you are eating, when you are breathing, know that you are breathing. When you can understand your own mind, you can understand your environment.
Try to observe your breaths to see if you fall asleep on your in-breath or out-breath.