Presence of the mind in daily activities
That is not an exercise confined to the practice session, such as observing the thought of the previous session; it is instead an attitude that must be cultivated and lived in everyday life, in the activities of the private, family and professional environment. The fact it is unnecessary to carve out a space of our precious time does not facilitate its execution. On the contrary, the possibilities of distraction multiply exponentially, going hand in hand with the emotions, feelings, stubborn thoughts that continually mix with our daily actions.
Start by disciplining your thoughts when engaging in any activity. The mind must be present in what you are doing, no matter how important the work is; you must also pay attention to seemingly mundane tasks without wandering or getting lost in ruminations. For example, if you have a professional activity, you need to focus your mind on the activity carried out; when you drive, you drive; you have to put aside everything that is not part of a private life when at home. Equally important is strengthening the ability to achieve one’s goals, making the ideation coincide with the action, avoiding as much as possible to exceed in daydreams.
It seems like a rather daunting task, and indeed it is, but it is not what is required in Step I. What is expected here is some skill in disciplining thought for limited periods, five to ten minutes in which one really pays attention to the work done, focusing attention and awareness where it is needed. In this way, the exercise becomes similar to the previous one, with the difference that we do not limit ourselves to observing the mental flow, but we ignore it by concentrating on the activity carried out physically.
The purpose of the practice is to be present to oneself in the various phases of daily activity; it is a prerequisite not only for magical realisation but also for developing a keen and efficient mind. In Tantric Buddhism, for example, there is talk of integrating the practice into daily habits, ensuring that every circumstance of life becomes an opportunity for training. We start from relaxation, but the senses remain alert and present because they are the doors of clarity. In this way, one’s energy and external experience interpenetrate and become one. However, to achieve this, it is necessary to persevere; in fact, Bardon recommends that you keep the exercise throughout your life, perfecting it as you go along. But for this Step, and before moving on to the following mental activity, a week of practice should be enough.