Mindfulness in daily living

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One of the things we learn is in whatever we do, we should do it mindfully and with patience and care. And in the monastery, whatever that we can do, we do it on our own instead of paying for workers or always asking other people for help.

When we first arrived at the cave, there were 2 Buddha  statues already there. The photo below was taken on 21 May 2009.


Below, is Mae Chi Baibun scrapping of the paints off the Buddha statue. The process took many hours.


Later, Khun Mae continued scrapping off the old paint last year.


The Buddha statue today after Khun Mae repainted it recently.

When painting, one have to be very quick, and at the same time skillful. According to Khun Mae, she should have bought water based paint. But because she overlooked and bought oil based paint instead, she had to made do with whatever that she had.  In fact, Khun Mae seems to do everything with care and attention.

She taught us that mindfulness is important when it comes to doing anything. With mindfulness, we can get better results and are less tired. She encouraged us that if we continously practice mindfulness- either through being aware of the in and out breath or by reciting Buddho, Buddho, our mindfulness would become automatic.

Most of the time, she said that when we work in the office, we tax our brain so much because our attention is never focused inward.  How many of us are aware of our breath when we are in front of the PC? Sometimes, in our haste to ‘get things done’, we even forget to breathe. Many people are becoming more and more stressed up- causing various chain reaction and affecting our health.

Khun Mae taught me, for instance when I am in front of the computer typing, learn to be aware of my breath or recite Buddho, Buddho. Even though it may take slightly longer to finish something, but our quality of our work would be better. When our mind are calm, solutions to problems would just arise. She said that it’s normal if we initially keep forgetting it but once we are aware, we should go back to our breath and recitation. After a while, it becomes a habit.

It’s important to try to develop and mantain our mindfulness in our daily activities. Mindfulness is not only reserved for the time when we are sitting on top of the meditation cushion.

Applying her teachings in my working life has helped me tremedously. Before I practiced with her, I used to be very stressed up at work, tired because of constant nightmares (manifestation of stress in daily life) and was unable to control my temper- both at work and at home.

It took sometime- but now, I work in a similar responsibilites in a demanding environment as my previous corporate job. But I no longer feel stressed like last time. People and problems no longer got to me like how they used to do in the past. I always remember what Khun Mae say to me, “when you don’t like somebody, don’t keep looking at their flaws. Look at your own self and examine your own emotions.”  I also no longer feel tired at the end of the day or have to douse tonnes of coffee to keep my eyes open. And I work better and solutions to problems come more easily to a relaxed and focused mind.

I learned know to keep the mind from thinking about anything else when I carried stones from the river or to carry pails of water up to the toilet or up to the cave (since there is no pipping system in the Cave). Because the work was physically tough for an unconditioned city girl like me, I had to learn to either focus on my breath or repeat Buddho Buddho to keep going.  And putting care to my work (instead of being easily bored or restless)- I learned through observing how Khun Mae does her daily work- for example when she scapped the paint of the Buddha and then painting 2 coats of white paint.  Or when she was sewing robes for the other nuns.

Lessons like this….it’s hard to learn from books or even to express out in writing. We can best comprehend only through doing it.

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