In MIDL Mindfulness Trainings 51 - 52/52 you refine all the different skills that you have learnt during the previous trainings based on softness, flexibility of attention and stillness. You do this within the formal structure of mindfulness of breathing, applying the different skills that you have learnt, dependent on what arises within your meditation practice. These self guided meditations provide initial guidance in grounding awareness within the body, then a 20min or 50min period of silence for self practice, followed by a grounding of awareness within the body to end the formal practice. Submit Your Question
Your Question: I have finished all the meditations, now what?
Stephen Procter: Refine your skills in the Three Pillars of MIDL: Softening, Stillness and Flexible Attention. Make your seated meditation the place in which you intentionally deepen these skills and your daily life your meditation practice.
You can do this in a systematic way by starting at the first training again but viewing it through the understanding you have cultivated over the last year or by targeting specific trainings like you would in a gymnasium.
Observe your relationship towards yourself and others in your daily life and focus on deconditioning any habitual defensive patterns that you observe arising. Refine yourself until you are someone who has no habitual defensive patterns of thought, speech or action.
Live a life that combines and not one that separates within yourself, your family, your community, the world.
Your Question: I have been doing each meditation for about a month, and now I am at the last one. I find around 30 minutes of meditation a day is a good time for me. I find the 60 minutes ones a little difficult and I do get distracted sometimes. Can you suggest what type of meditation I should do once I finish your last one.
Stephen Procter: Your focus should be on developing balance in your skill in the Three Pillars of MIDL: Softening, Stillness and Flexibility of Attention. Observe yourself throughout your day and notice which of these three skills are weakest in you, and then focus on training that in your seated meditation to refine the skill. On maturity all three pillars transfer into daily life, you will know this because there will be no difference between sitting in meditation and your daily life. The posture of mindfulness, softness in interactions and stillness will remain the same - undisturbed.
If you are not sure start at the beginning of these Mindfulness Trainings again, deepening and refining each skill. These are not the same trainings the second time through, your skill in meditation is higher, your understanding has deepened and perception has changed. Due to this your experience of these 52 Mindfulness Trainings will be different to the first time you did them. I still train and refine all these MIDL skills.
Also it is important to develop your practice beyond guided meditations. Guided meditations are like training wheels on your bicycle, it is now time to take them off. Just like the bicycle, when you first remove the training wheels you will fall off, the main thing is to just hop back on the bicycle again. You develop your skill in meditation the same way. Practice each training without the guided meditation playing. You can alternate this between using the guided meditation and then meditating without guidance the next time, until you make the skill covered in the training your own.
Your Question: Thank you Stephen, I’ve been following your practice for several years now and have created a daily practice that truly has transformed the way I think, react, and behave. I’m so grateful for this practice and find myself looking through your MIDL book from time to time for more guidance. I was wondering if you have any more wisdom on deepening my practice? I truly appreciate you and all your teachings!
Stephen Procter: To deepen your practice continue to self observe throughout the day and to develop & refine your skill in the Three Pillars of MIDL:
*The development of your skill in flexibility of attention allows you to observe any movements of awareness towards the six senses throughout the day and any relationship of attraction or aversion that arises within your mind. This mindfulness of the movement of the focus of awareness protects you.
*The development of your skill in softening gives you the ability to soften / relax into any attraction or aversion that you experience within your mind, giving rise to mindful non-participation.
*The development of your skill in allowing stillness to arise through mindful non-participation, gives you the ability to abandon the food of proliferation within your mind allowing your mind to naturally return to stillness.
These Three MIDL Pillars allow you to fulfill Right Intention in the Noble Eightfold Path by observing the arising of any unwholesome qualities within your mind (those that cause separation) and abandoning them through softening into your relationship towards them so that your mind returns to stillness.
This process of mindful non-participation deconditions negative habitual patterns within the mind through the skillful withdrawing of participation. As your skill develops and the patterns weaken within you, you can then use your observing and softening skills to guard against their arising until they are completely deconditioned within your mind and can not arise again.
With the weakening of negative habitual patterns within your mind you will need to replace them by cultivating any wholesome qualities that are weak due to suppression; get to know yourself really well. By self observing and through mindful participation, you can then soften into your relationship towards these wholesome qualities to make them stronger and establish them as your natural expression. Like gently blowing air on a weak ember to create a fire.
All of these are supported by your formal seated meditation in the MIDL 52 Mindfulness Trainings. You now use these mindfulness trainings during daily seated meditation to skillfully strengthen any areas in which your skill is weak. The 52 Mindfulness Trainings are a complete mindfulness meditation practice laid out flat.
In the same way that in a book on human anatomy you can have a picture of the whole body or individual parts of the body ‘laid out flat’ for all to see. In the same way the 52 Mindfulness Trainings together are the ‘whole body’ of the meditation system ‘laid out flat’ so that they can be used individually to strengthen specific skills that you find weak within yourself.
In this way you can decide to start from the beginning again, bringing your refined skill into your understanding of the trainings, or to train individual skills in a targeted way. Learning to do the meditation training without guidance for greater result in the development of mindfulness as your distraction will be greater.
At this stage it is helpful when doing your seated meditation training to observe the movements within the mind in terms of their uncontrollable and impersonal nature. Notice the flowing, changing, impersonal nature of your mind. This will gradually change your relationship towards all experience giving rise to abandoning through disenchantment.