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Initial Application of Mindfulness Extension Excercises in a Traditional Buddhist Meditation Retreat Setting by James Baraz and Charles




          INITIAL APPLICATION OF MINDFULNESS EXTENSION EXERCISES 
           IN A TRADITIONAL BUDDHIST MEDITATION RETREAT SETTING
 
                                James Baraz
 
              Insight Meditation West, Oakland, California
                                   and
                 Dharma Foundation, Oakland, California
 
                                   and
 
                              Charles T. Tart
 
                      University of California at Davis
                                   and
                   Institute of Noetic Sciences, Sausalito
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This paper has not previously been published.
 
------------
Abstract:  The cultivation of mindfulness, clear moment-to-moment 
awareness of what is actually happening, as opposed to the 
typical distortions of perception caused by desires, fears, 
attachments and other psychological defense mechanisms so 
characteristic of ordinary consciousness, is an essential element 
in personal and spiritual growth.  Spiritual traditions such as 
Buddhism have developed sophisticated methodologies for 
developing mindfulness in specialized retreat situations, but the 
mindfulness and concentration often experienced therein does not 
generalize well to daily life situations.  Some principles of 
generalizing mindfulness to daily life were used to design 
specific exercises that were tested in two otherwise traditional 
Buddhist vipassana ("mindfulness") meditation retreats.  The 
exercises and their results are described.  They proved useful in 
widening the scope of mindfulness, easing reentry into ordinary 
life and enhancing the transfer of mindfulness to daily life.
------------
 
     One of us (C.T.T.) has argued elsewhere that the cultivation 
of mindfulness, a precise moment-to-moment observation of exactly 
what is happening internally and externally, is an essential 
element in personal and spiritual growth (Tart, 1986; in press).  
The great spiritual systems originated, expressed and refined 
this idea.  The goal of mindfulness and related concepts and 
practices are now having an important impact on our culture in 
general and on the humanistic and transpersonal psychology areas 
in particular.  The emphasized spiritual system will be Buddhism 
in this paper, but the arguments may apply to other systems.  
     Practically, frequent and clear mindfulness is rare in 
everyday life.  The monastic tradition that has accompanied 
Buddhism to the West, in particular, has implicitly tended to 
emphasize mindfulness in the special situations of formal 
meditation and monastic life.  Many contemporary Western 
practitioners of meditation have found that the deep mindfulness 
developed in formal meditation and monastic-like retreats does 
not readily transfer to enhancing moment-to-moment mindfulness in 
ordinary life situations.
     C.T.T. (in press) suggested that some practices designed to 
cultivate mindfulness in everyday life, drawn from his 
experimentation with the Gurdjieff tradition (Ouspensky, 1949; 
Tart, 1986), could be combined with more traditional Buddhist 
meditation training to facilitate the development of mindfulness 
in everyday life (Tart, in press).  Working from a preliminary 
version of C.T.T.'s paper, which contained general principles for 
mindfulness training exercises but few specific exercises, the 
first author (J.B.), with significant assistance from Jack 
Kornfield, Carol Wilson, Howard Cohn and John Travis, devised a 
number of specific training exercises and applied them in two 
traditional Buddhist vipassana meditation retreats.  J.B. is an 
experienced vipassana meditation teacher.  
        This paper elaborates on the need for additional training to 
facilitate mindfulness training in everyday life, especially 
specific problems encountered in the transition from a meditation 
retreat to everyday life, describes some specific mindfulness 
extension exercises to use in a meditation retreat, and reports 
observations on their effects.  We hope these observations will 
be helpful to others who want to experiment with extending 
mindfulness to all areas of life.
     The discussion of difficulty in practicing mindfulness in 
daily life presented elsewhere (Tart, in press) emphasized that 
everyday life was quite different in the stimulus configuration 
presented to people, such that it failed to remind them of the 
high degree of mindfulness they may have developed in the special 
situation of a meditation retreat.  In addition, J.B. has often 
observed a distinctively sensitive and challenging transition 
period as a meditator leaves the retreat situation to return to 
ordinary life, especially with those who are relatively new to 
retreat experience.  This difficult transition period may further 
increase the obstacles to taking the mindfulness developed in the 
retreat setting into life, so we will describe the typical 
vipassana meditation retreat procedure here and then discuss the 
transition problems before reporting on the application of 
mindfulness extension exercises.
 
Meditation Retreat Procedure
     Vipassana meditation, popularly referred to as insight 
meditation, is one of the fundamental forms of Buddhist 
meditation.  Different teachers and lineages emphasize different 
aspects, but basically it centers around the instruction to sit 
quietly and observe whatever manifests in the mind and body as 
precisely as possible.  You focus on being present to what is, 
rather than, as is usually done in ordinary life, manipulating 
your experience in accordance with desire, clinging to the 
pleasant and the expected, suppressing the unpleasant and the 
unexpected.  Excellent detailed descriptions can be found 
elsewhere (see, e.g., Goldstein, 1977; Goldstein & Kornfield, 
1987; Goleman, 1988).
     Vipassana retreats, particularly those run by teachers 
affiliated with the Insight Meditation Society, generally have an 
equal mixture of relatively new and fairly experienced 
practitioners.  Instructions are given throughout the first few 
days of the retreat.   Participants sit in meditation for periods 
of 45 minutes to an hour, alternating sitting with periods of 
walking vipassana meditation for about 45 minutes.  Sitting, 
walking, sitting, walking.  There are two main meals a day, with 
tea and a snack rather than a full evening meal.  Retreatants are 
asked to be mindful in the eating periods also.  There is no 
talking or socializing during the retreat.  
     Each participant can participate in an individual or small 
group interview with one of the teachers every other day.  This 
is the only regularly scheduled opportunity for retreat 
participants to talk with anyone about what is going on with 
their practice.  If a meditator runs into special difficulties 
between these times, however, a teacher is generally available.  
Each evening there is also a talk on some aspect of the 
meditation practice or the philosophy on which it is based.
     As part of the discipline and psychological atmosphere of a 
retreat, each participant agrees to abide by the traditional Five 
Precepts.  First, refraining from intentionally killing any life 
form (vegetables are excepted, insects are included).  This 
creates an attitude of non-harming as well as a reverence for the 
interconnectedness of life.  Second, refraining from stealing.  
Third, refraining from any sexual relations during the retreat1
 
___________________begin notes
1       Outside of the retreat situation, the precept is to not create 
suffering through sexual conduct.
----------------- 
Fourth, maintaining silence, unless there is some important 
reason to talk, such as in interviews or in group discussion with 
teachers, or in talking to the managers or cooks about practical 
tasks which need to be done.  The fifth precept is refraining 
from intoxicants, drugs (excluding prescribed medications for 
illness) or alcohol2.  Besides the moral and technical importance 
of the precepts, there is a general agreement that this is a time 
to focus inward and to get in touch with one's own process of 
body and mind. 
--------------
2       Imposing only five precepts is a small liberalization of the 
tradition for the West.  A more orthodox retreat includes three more 
precepts, namely not wearing jewelry or ornaments, not sleeping on high 
or luxurious beds and not eating past the noon meal.
--------------
     Retreats vary in length from a single day to three months.  
Weekend and ten day retreats are common.  Very deep states of 
mindfulness and concentration, specifically including feeling 
clear, blissful, and particularly sensitivity to inner processes, 
can result from the longer retreats, where the distractions of 
ordinary life progressively fade.  It is from the ten day and 
longer retreats that J.B. and other meditation teachers have 
observed important problems in the transition back to ordinary 
life3.  Beside being important in themselves, the fact that 
disturbances and unpleasant experiences can result during the 
transition away from the mindfulness and concentration acquired 
in a long retreat can be an important factor in inhibiting the 
generalization of mindfulness to everyday life.
---------begin note
3       The retreat conditions of minimal external disturbance and an 
environment in which the meditator is continually encouraged to bring 
the wandering mind back to the present results not only in strong 
mindfulness but also, at times, in deep concentration.  Some distinction 
should be made between mindfulness and concentration, two separate 
qualities both developed by the meditation process.  
        Mindfulness is the ability to notice clearly what is happening 
in the moment without clinging to the pleasant, condemning the unpleasant 
or identifying with the experience (taking it to be "my" or "mine").  
Concentration is the ability of the mind to stay fixed on an object.  
Although the two often appear together, it is possible to have 
some degree of mindfulness without particularly strong one-pointed 
concentration, or strong concentration (being absorbed in an object) 
without particularly strong mindfulness.  Moment-to-moment mindfulness 
can also develop a kind of concentration as well that keeps the mind 
fixed in the present through constantly changing experience.
        As important as the difference in mindfulness is between daily 
life and retreat, the contrast between concentration levels is equally 
significant in discussing the difficulties in leaving the retreat.  
When practitioners try to hold on to the calm and concentration 
once the retreat ends, they are often very discouraged and frustrated.  
Also, the heightened sensitivity of a concentrated mind leaves a 
meditator especially vulnerable to the barrage of stimulation most 
of us deal insensitively with in daily life: this can be quite jarring.
-----------end notes
 
 
Problems in the Transition Period
     In the first three-month course of this style in America, in 
Bucksport, Maine in 1975, there was no transition period between 
formal meditation practice and leaving the retreat.  It was clear 
from later feedback that this sudden transition created 
significant problem.  Besides J.B.'s personal experience of 
finding such transitions difficult, in his later practice as a 
meditation teacher many retreat participants coming from long 
retreats have called on him for help.  They would be in a shaky, 
disturbed state of mind, not quite knowing how to integrate what 
happened in their experience and how to make it meaningful in 
their daily life. 
     There is sometimes a feeling of depression, for example, or 
feelings of confusion; of alienation and not knowing whether they 
really belong in the busy world; of inability to get themselves 
in gear and go out and take care of very basic ordinary 
functioning, like getting a job.  When people have gone through a 
retreat, especially the longer ones, they have cut off their 
ordinary routines and the stability resulting from routines.  
They are coming out into a world that has many possibilities, but 
some find they cannot focus as needed on the necessary tasks of 
everyday life.  
     If retreat participants do not expect difficulties at the 
end of a meditation retreat, such problems can be made worse.  
Participants may tend to think, "Well now, I've done the retreat, 
I've gotten myself together, I'm all fixed!"  Then on leaving 
what they see, with much more clarity than they did when they 
first started, is all the old automatic habits and fears and ways 
that we "lose it."  This can be very unsettling!  
     For example, the first time J.B. left a three month retreat, 
when he started talking with people all the old psychological 
"garbage" was still there, such as self-judgment and paranoia.  
He went running to the teacher, saying that the meditation hadn't 
worked.  Indeed, he thought of asking for his money back!  He was 
reminded by the teacher that insight meditation is more about 
making friends with those parts of ourselves that we reject than 
about getting high, but he believes that if he hadn't gone 
directly to the teacher in such a distressed state that he would 
not have understood that.  Many retreat participants leave 
without getting that understanding.  
        Some retreatants have difficulty adjusting to the faster 
pace of ordinary life, especially if they have been deeply 
immersed in the retreat.  They may experience headaches, nausea 
and/or a sense of being overwhelmed by the barrage of 
stimulation.  These disturbances may last only a few days or 
sometimes for weeks.  Others find that their relationships to 
previous habits and desires has changed dramatically.  It is not 
uncommon for someone who had a powerful retreat experience to 
lose sexual desire for a period of time, for example.  Ambition 
and striving hard to become a success may likewise be curtailed.  
While these may be viewed by some (including the retreatant 
experiencing them) as positive changes, they can still be quite 
unsettling when someone's self image (habits identified with) is 
so radically altered.
        Another not uncommon difficulty stems from changes in the 
way retreat participants relate to people in their lives.  When 
one goes through a profound and inward experience, it is 
sometimes hard to communicate with others, even people we 
consider close.  The feeling that "They just don't understand!" 
can lead to a distancing or alienation that can be very 
saddening.  Further, a retreatant sometimes finds himself or 
herself less drawn to people whose values seem at odds to those 
discovered or reinforced in the retreat experience, values such 
as sensitivity, integrity, kindness, etc.  This can disrupt old 
friendships, with consequent feelings of loss and grieving.  
These and other major shifts in the way retreatants look at life 
after prolonged deep meditation practice are major challenges in 
the return process.
     As a result of these observations, vipassana meditation 
teachers instituted an integration week at the end of three month 
retreats.  This is a Western innovation: we do not know of a 
comparable procedure in Eastern culture, and it may not be needed 
much in many Eastern cultures, where meditation and associated 
values are much more accepted.  This integration week has been 
helpful, but has not eliminated the problem of many retreatants 
finding the transition into life quite difficult.
     Integration week is a period when retreat participants, who 
have been sitting together in quiet for three months, start to 
interact, start to get used to talking and communicating while 
still having many periods of meditation together -- perhaps for 5 
hours instead of the usual 7-10 or 12 hours a day.  So there is a 
gradual coming back to conversing, with some sitting in between.
     The topics of conversation in the integration week have 
varied from year to year.  Sometimes groups would meet to discuss 
topics like livelihood or relationship, or communication.  
Sometimes retreatants just go out and have fun, like going to the 
shopping mall in Worcester where they might feel intoxicated from 
the altered state of consciousness induced by the sharp contrast 
of the shopping mall environment.    Vipassana meditation 
teachers have also modified the shorter retreats of 10 day to 2 
weeks in a similar way the last few years.  The silence is broken 
the afternoon before the end of the retreat so there is some 
talking.  It is like taking off the lid of the pressure cooker of 
the retreat situation.  In the evening quiet is imposed again and 
then the next morning there is more conversing.  This includes a 
group go-around where retreat participants introduce themselves 
and start to relate to each other as ordinary people, although in 
a rather minimal way.  These modifications are only partial 
solutions, however, as many retreat participants who do longer 
retreats still have significant problems readapting to ordinary 
life.
     To some extent these practices are mainly a "release of 
pressure" process, rather than specific practice in mindfully 
doing worldly kinds of tasks.  Teachers would also give some 
verbal suggestions to be mindful in everyday life, such as taking 
a daily activity like shaving and doing that mindfully, or 
remembering to come into your body and feel your body posture 
when you are starting to get a little bit over-extended, or 
remembering about sensing breathing as a grounding exercise, or 
sitting in meditation every day.  
     J.B. also found it particularly important to let retreat 
participants know that in the first few days of coming out of a 
retreat there is such a sensitivity and openness that it is very 
common for people to go though wide mood swings and energy 
swings.  He advised them to give themselves the psychological 
space to know that such swings are OK, to take care of 
themselves, and to monitor themselves so that if their system was 
getting overloaded, they could process such material as the 
overload started.  
     There can also be a defensive reaction to the disturbances 
resulting from reentering the ordinary world, what J.B. has 
called the "retreat junky syndrome."  Something very profound in 
the meditator can be touched within the retreat.  It seems so 
real and the outside world, in contrast, seems so crazy and 
repugnant, that people long to flee the ordinary world as soon as 
possible, and so live from retreat to retreat.  That is most 
unfortunate.  This "retreat junky" syndrome, however, should not 
be confused with being in the middle of a very deep, inward 
journey, which has its own cycle of completion.   In the latter, 
the main motivation is a pull to depend the profound inner work 
that has been started, rather than avoidance.  Such a journey 
might have a cycle of six months, two years, or a life-time given 
to the monastic life.
 
Aim of the Present Study
     What we basically hoped to do with the experimental 
mindfulness extension procedures introduced during these 
retreats, then, was:
     (1) teach retreat participants to let go of any 
     tranquil, altered states that had developed gracefully, 
     without the tendency to hold on or be attached to the 
     high, and 
     (2)  to create a more meaningful transition from 
     retreat to ordinary life, so the ability to be mindful 
     that retreatants had cultivated would serve them better 
     when they returned home.
     Most of the retreat participants were quite willing to try 
the mindfulness extension exercises, although there were some who 
later admitted they were upset with the change of plans.  As it 
turned out, by and large they changed their minds and felt really 
pleased with the outcome.
 
Experimental Retreat Settings
     The first retreat at which we4 introduced mindfulness 
extension exercises was held in April l988 in the Yucca Valley in 
Southern California.  This was two 10-day retreats back-to-back, 
a 20 day retreat for those who attended both.  Thirty people 
meditated for the full 20 days.  An additional 35 people were 
there for the second 10 day retreat.  Instead of simply breaking 
silence near the end, as described above, we began introducing 
various mindfulness extension exercises two days before the end.  
We began with some exercises that were fairly quiet, to keep 
retreat participants in the quiet space most had reached and not 
jar them too suddenly.  The following day we introduced more 
interactive kinds of exercises.  Mindfulness extension exercises 
were also used at the end of another 10-day retreat that was held 
in Santa Rosa, California in June of 1988.
_______________________________
4       J. B., Jack Kornfield, Carol Wilson and Howard Cohn.
-----------------
 
Easing the Transition
     The retreat instructors had some concern that retreat 
participants would be upset by this change of routine.  There is 
something very sweet about being in the quiet space that 
prolonged meditation can generate, and often retreat participants 
want to squeeze the last drop of quietness and mindfulness out of 
their experience, knowing full well that they would be going back 
soon to a very busy life.  
     To express it the way the drug culture did in the sixties 
and seventies, at the end of a retreat people don't want to "come 
down."  They want to keep enjoying the "high," because it is such 
a pleasurable altered state.  Things are so clear and brilliant.  
In addition, as previously mentioned, people are very open and 
sensitive and are reluctant to jar their systems.  In this state 
of enhanced sensitivity, it can be, for example, quite painful to 
be in a room with a lot of people talking at once.
     Most retreat participants realize that sooner or later they 
are going to have to come down, so often near the end of a 
retreat people psychologically wince and put on the brakes, since 
they know that there will be a crash soon.  Experienced 
meditators know that as soon as you open up your mouth (to talk), 
the concentration flies out.  This "knowledge" might set up an 
expectation that the crash will occur, and so may partially act 
as a self-fulfilling prophecy.
     From a Buddhist point of view, of course, holding onto a 
high is just one more kind of grasping that will create 
suffering.  Instructors try to convey the idea that practice is 
actually learning to let go of what is passing, to mindfully be 
with confusion and chaos as well as desirable experiences, but it 
is hard in practice to not grasp at the clear states meditation 
can bring about.
     These are the reasons we introduced the mindfulness 
extension exercises gradually.
 
Mindfulness Extension Exercises
Fetching and Walking:
     As the first mindfulness extension exercise, we asked 
retreat participants to bring sweaters or coats to the next 
session, but leave them outside the hall itself.  It was very hot 
in the day at that time of year, so there was a non-sensical 
quality about this that caught retreat participants' attention.  
        The  first exercise was to go put on their coats and shoes 
at normal speed (not the slow motion moving people at retreats 
deliberately adopt), then to walk over to the dining room (about 
200 yards away) and put their coat or sweater down over a chair 
which they were going to be returning to later on during the day.  
Then they were to walk back to the meditation hall, at normal 
speed, and then sit quietly meditating for five minutes.  
     What makes this and all the other exercises to be described 
a mindfulness exercise is the instruction (followed by 
appropriate attentiveness) to be attentive to and clearly mindful 
of what you are doing in every action.  Being mindful in this 
specific exercise would usually include keeping a sense of body 
awareness as you shift into and move in that "new" speed of a 
normal pace.  It may include doing some mental noting, a tool 
sometimes used in vipassana meditation, a matter of bare labeling 
of ongoing action.  Perhaps you will be noting "tying shoes" or 
"putting on coat," for example.
 
Saying Hello
     The next exercise that we did was learning to mindfully say 
hello to someone and seeing what experiences arose as a result of 
this.  We specified that this was not to be a lot of conversing, 
but just greeting each other, as at a party, for example, where 
you know peoples' names.  You didn't go through the formality of 
introducing yourself, you just said hello and shook the other 
person's hand.  You could say a couple of words if that seemed 
right, but there was no real urging to do that.  After each 
hello, a bell was rung.  Retreat participants had five such 
interactions, saying hello to others near them this way.  After 
doing this, everyone sat in silent meditation for 15 minutes.
 
Waiting in Line
        Participants lined up at the drinking fountain.  After they 
received their drink, they were asked to go to the back of the 
line again so that the experience of waiting was emphasized, 
rather than that of getting some result.  While on line, the 
instructions were either to be mindful of thoughts and movements 
as the line inched forward or to do metta, loving-kindness 
meditation5.  The metta was done silently, without making eye 
contact with others.  This exercise was meant to give some tools 
for common waiting situations like traffic jams, movie lines, 
etc.
_______________________________
5       Metta is a complement to vipassana practice that comes from 
the Buddha's teaching.  It is usually done on retreats, as well as at 
the end of ordinary sitting practice.  It involves a repetition of 
phrases such as "May you be happy," "May you be free from harm," 
etc., directed in a systematic way from oneself as a starting point 
out to all beings.
-------------
        After about 15 minutes of waiting in line participants were 
asked to silently come together.  They then received instructions 
for the next exercise, hurrying.
 
Hurrying
     Paired with the Waiting in Line exercise was one to train 
mindfulness in a typical everyday situation, hurrying.  What is 
it like to hurry?  
     The retreat participants had left their coats in the dining 
hall, which was 200 yards away.  They were to imagine that a talk 
was about to begin in another minute or so and they needed to get 
their coats and come to the talk.  They were to observe the 
things that came up while they were hurrying and how much it 
threw them off balance.  Is there a way to move quickly while 
being centered, rather than toppling forward?  Is there a way to 
experientially stay in your body, yet hurry?   Can you observe 
the pain that comes from hurrying?  
        After these two exercises participants sat in silent 
meditation for 15 minutes before some reporting of their 
experiences with the group.
 
Serving Another:
     Then we had the last exercise for that day.  Later on we 
went into silence for rest of the evening.  It was tea time at 
that point.  
     At tea time, in the late afternoon, retreat participants 
were asked to pair up with another person as they came to the 
door of the dining room, sit down across from each other and then 
one person, Person A, would ask Person B what he or she wanted 
for tea.  This was a practice in giving and receiving mindfully.  
The only words spoken were "What can I get you?"  Person A would 
go and mindfully get the order, bring it back and give it to 
Person B.  Then they switched roles.  The rest of the tea time 
was done in silence.   
     After tea there was formal sitting meditation, an 
instructional talk and then more sitting.  
 
Preparing for Everyday Life:
        The next day we had a few more exercises.  First, people 
were asked to write down a list of activities that they needed to 
do the first day or two after the retreat.  They then shared 
their list with their partner, discussing ways that mindfulness 
practice might be incorporated into these practical activities.  
This exercise was to address the question of mindfulness during 
planning and writing, as well as reflecting on practical ways to 
maintain mindfulness in typical daily activities.       Participants 
then spent some time sharing their experiences and ideas with the 
group in general, and then ended with 15 minutes of silent 
meditation.
 
The Go-Around:
        Next the participants went through an exercise that has been 
regularly used at the end of retreats for the past 10 years, 
namely a go-around of introductions.  Each person got up and said 
their name, where they lived, and a few words about themselves, 
while trying to be mindful throughout this activity.  This kind 
of practice is important as many people report that it is very 
difficult to be mindful while speaking.
 
Driving Exercise
        We then left the meditation hall for the facility's parking 
lot.  Drivers stood by their cars.  Passengers6 selected cars and 
silently got in.  In silence, they were to drive slowly around 
the front part of the facility.  Each retreatant was to mindfully 
observe what it was like to be a driver or a passenger, both 
physically and mentally, while taking this 5-10 minute drive.  
Driving and riding in cars is, of course, a major everyday life 
activity for many Westerners.  After the ride the participants 
gathered again as a group and, following a 15 minute mediation, 
shared their experiences.
_______________________________
6       Many participants had flown to the retreat facility and 
so did not have their own cars there.
--------------
 
 
Results
     In general, the results of introducing these mindfulness 
extension exercises were extremely valuable.  Retreat 
participants found that they did have to let go of the altered 
state of blissful clarity they often developed during the 
prolonged sitting meditation in order to do these mindfulness 
extension exercises.  When you change from just sitting to 
walking, to doing anything different, the feelings of clarity 
start to get shaken up a bit, but that was a useful experience to 
see as well.  Retreat participants felt a lot more grounded and 
less confused than at the end of a more traditional retreat, and 
many remarked that this was something that should be done 
regularly.  We will now describe results of specific exercises.
 
 
Waiting in Line
        The Waiting in Line exercise, and the Fetching and Walking 
(putting on coats and shoes at normal speed) were early 
exercises, and retreat participants felt comfortable doing them.  
We feel that "easy" mindfulness extension exercises like these 
should start the series before moving on to more complex tasks.
     The Waiting in Line exercise was an especially useful one.  
Retreat participants reported a wide variety of reactions, 
typically seeing how frustrated they get when they are waiting.  
Often this was just a restlessness of just needing to go 
somewhere, a motor tendency to just "topple forward!"  Sharing 
these reactions allowed retreat participants to laugh about 
themselves.
 
The Hurrying Exercise
        The Hurrying exercise had varying responses that seemed to 
be influenced by how deep the participants' retreat experiences 
had been.  Many of those who were still very sensitive as a 
result of intense practice found this exercise to be quite 
painful and jarring to their systems.  Through seeing this, they 
could appreciate in a new way the turbulent effects hurrying has 
in their ordinary lives.  Others, who were ready to let loose 
from the confines of the slow pace of the retreat, found this 
exercise to be exhilarating.
        Perhaps the imagined pressure of the situation (with most 
people obviously having fun in the exercise) did not adequately 
simulate the pressure of hurrying in everyday life.  Most 
participants seemed to experience being less mindful than they 
had been, in addition to feeling off center.  A few found that 
they could use the gross movements of the body in hurrying as an 
effective focal point for staying grounded and present.  There 
was general agreement that hurrying in one's life detracts from 
centeredness and should be avoided when possible.
 
Interacting with Others
     Retreat participants had a variety of reactions to the 
mindfulness extension exercises that involved interacting with 
each other.  The most striking was the one where retreat 
participants serially looked at each other and said hello.  
Retreat participants had been so inward that many felt very 
vulnerable to others.
     Most retreat participants felt that they needed more time to 
process their inner reactions between each interaction.  They 
wanted to let them register more deeply: what does that mean to 
let someone in, let yourself out?  In the future we will allow at 
least a few minutes between each interaction.
     Some retreat participants found the Saying Hello exercise 
and the wide spectrum of people's reactions very stimulating.  
They got very high and loving, they wanted to take people in.  On 
the other hand, some retreat participants reported they were 
really fearful, or they saw themselves close down.  Some found 
they were defensive with some people while not with others.  
     Some retreatants had a feeling that they wanted to send 
something in these interactions, they had to communicate 
something.  Some were just dying to send their love, beam their 
love out.  Others had difficulties and noticed their bodies 
contracting, some were mindful of their bodies being open.  Some 
had an experience of really being touched by the commonality of 
life, others felt other people as really separate.  
     As instructors we tried not to put any kind of value 
judgments on people's reactions to these mindfulness extension 
exercises.  It was not a pass/fail test.  It was practice in just 
observing.  The more we observed with clarity, the more we could 
start to understand.
 
Driving Exercise
     The Driving exercise brought up many useful self 
observations.  For example, some of the retreat participants cast 
in the role of drivers, for example, wanted to be creative in 
their exploration.  Rather than just circling around the islands 
and coming back, they wanted to take an interesting drive.7  
Others just followed the instructions to drive around the 
islands.  Some drivers saw how they liked controlling situations, 
controlling their passengers, others saw that they became very 
anxious and felt on the spot, that they were responsible for this 
whole journey.  Were they doing it well enough?  What did other 
people think about them?
_______________________________
7       Wanting to make things "interesting" is a frequent obstacle to 
the meditative aim of trying to be mindful of things as the are, 
rather than manipulating them.  
----------------
     The people in the role of passengers were very aware of what 
their drivers did, and many saw very clearly how they were 
terrible "back seat drivers," nudging and pointing, wanting to 
control the situation.  Many retreat participants saw that they 
act in these ways in ordinary life, but are not mindful of it 
then.  What became obvious through all these mindfulness 
extension exercises was that it is not a different mind that you 
have in the retreat:  it is the same mind, with its habits and 
patterns of thoughts, you are just seeing it a more clearly.  
        When retreats are held in Yucca Valley, there is a custom of 
driving up to the Joshua Tree National Monument at the end.  
Driving there proved to be a much more grounded and integrated 
experience, rather than the typical chaotic kind of "Whoa, its 
amazing and here we are!"  There was more of a sense of a 
community and a carrying over of mindfulness in ordinary actions 
from these mindfulness extension exercises.  
        Another positive aspect of doing these exercises was that 
when silence was formally broken at lunch time, before the 
driving exercise, there was not an explosion of energy as often 
happens in the traditional retreat.  Perhaps the exercises made 
the process of relating more gradual and so more grounded and 
integrated.  Rather than wild talking and intense energy, as if 
the lid of a pressure cooker had popped off, people were calmer, 
talked in small groups or dyads, and felt more at ease with the 
process of talking.  The usual frenzy of energy itself leads to 
burnout and an unbalanced mind.
 
 
Conclusions
     A primary point of the original article (Tart, in press) and 
the primary purpose of the mindfulness extension exercises 
introduced into these two retreats is that mindfulness is not 
just a "luxury" item to produce a high in special retreat 
situations.  Mindfulness is essential in all activities of life 
if we want to understand ourselves and our lives better and to 
reduce unnecessary suffering.  
     Our informal observations of reactions to mindfulness 
extension exercises are just a beginning at answering questions 
as to whether and to what extent such exercises can assist in 
generalizing the mindfulness experienced in retreat situations to 
everyday life, but it is a very encouraging beginning.  J.B. has 
spoken to a number of retreat participants since the end of these 
two retreats, and many found the modified procedures resulted in 
a noticeable increase in their everyday mindfulness and 
groundedness compared to previous retreat experiences, at least 
during the first period of reentry.
     One should not expect too much of mindfulness extension 
exercises as such, of course.  They are tools, not solutions, and 
their effects will depend on a person's general ability to be 
mindful, the power of the retreat experience, the effort he or 
she puts into being mindful in everyday life, the mindlessness 
provoking qualities of the situations he or she returns to in 
life, the strength of habits of automated, mindless functioning, 
unconscious emotional factors, and of other factors which we do 
not yet understand.  
     All of the retreat teachers were pleased with the initial 
results of the mindfulness extension exercises and plan to 
continue experimenting.
 
 
References
Goldstein, J. (1977).  The Experience of Insight.  Boulder: 
    Shambhala.
Goldstein, J. & Kornfield, J. (1987).  Seeking the Heart of 
    Wisdom.  Boston: Shambhala.
Goleman, D. (1988).  The Meditative Mind: The Varieties of 
    Meditative Experience.  Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher.
Ouspensky, P. D. (1949).  In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments 
    of an Unknown Teaching.  New York: Harcourt, Brace & World.
Tart, C. T. (1986).  Waking Up: Overcoming the Obstacles to Human 
    Potential.  Boston: New Science Library.
Tart, C. T. (in press), Extending mindfulness to everyday life.  
    Journal of Humanistic Psychology.
 
end



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