Benefits of Long-term Mindfulness:
A special way of seeing
One of the recent researches involving long term Mindfulness
practitioners studied practitioners from a Buddhist monastery in
Myanmar. Writing about it in an article published online in December
2015, the investigators said the practice of Vipassana meditation
reduced depressive moods, anger, hostility, fatigue and increased vigour
among the practitioners. They had also found that if Mindfulness
practice was continued daily for more than one year, the psychological
flexibility of the practitioners was enhanced.
psychological flexibility is defined as the ability to contact the
present moment more fully as a conscious human being, and to change or
persist in behaviour when doing so serves valued ends.
Psychological flexibility could vary according to the number of years
of practice. In addition, it will result in the development of wholesome
qualities in the practitioners. Such a development is actually a
secondary result of a greater overall spiritual development among the
long term practitioners of Mindfulness.
As we did during last week, this could best be explained using an
actual life example of a long term practitioner who has practiced
Mindfulness for decades. We will continue on the same episode we gave
last week. In that we described a male practitioner who stopped at a
restaurant in Kurunegala on his way back to Colombo from Anuradhapura.
A special way of seeing and relating
Practitioners have a special way of seeing and relating to events,
themselves and the external world at certain times. It doesn't happen
due to deductive thinking or careful reasoning but rather due to their
'After the meal he felt the need to use the washroom of the
restaurant. He walked mindfully towards the washroom and was aware of
the pressure of the floor against the soles of his feet while he walked.
The washroom was common for both males and females.
He noticed that the door of the washroom was slightly ajar and heard
the voice of a male coming from within. After about a minute, a male
came out clutching a mobile phone in one hand and attending to his
trouser with the other.
All the time he was speaking to another person on his mobile phone.
long-term practitioner of Mindfulness first put his mobile phone on
silent mode before entering the washroom. He consciously felt the touch
of the door as he opened and locked it behind after entering. As he
approached the toilet, he noticed that the commode seat had freshly
spilled urine in yellow patches all over it. He felt repulsive - and
observed that feeling neutrally without adding or getting carried away
He started to observe both the object of repulsiveness and the
observer, from moment to moment almost as if he was observing a
different person from above. He soon got deeply absorbed in the rapidly
arising and dissolving chain of phenomenon.
He first washed the toilet seat using the hand bidet and thoroughly
wiped it using toilet paper.
As he washed the seat, he noted the rapidly vanishing stains and the
smell of urine. Along with that change, he also noted how the feelings
within his own mind changed to satisfaction and then to that of
Both the observed and the observer continued to change rapidly
without leaving a space to take hold of as an identity.
He lifted the freshly cleaned seat before using the toilet. He
mindfully left the washroom after adjusting his clothing, washing his
hands and switching off the silent mode of his mobile phone.
He didn't feel any animosity towards the previous user of the
washroom. He also didn't feel any elation due to his own act of cleaning
the washroom. To him there was no person at the time of that action as
he consciously entered the very rapidly changing rise and disappearance
of mind and matter.'
The Western teachers try to explain this using a parable. They say
the same person cannot enter a rapid river twice because the person will
be entering a different river next time due to its flowing. The Eastern
teachers of Mindfulness take the same parable and go further. They say
both the river and the person entering that are not the same as both are
changing very rapidly - and as such there is no specific river or a
Aruna Manathunge has practiced Mindfulness for over 42 years. During
the past 7 years he has closely followed the development of Mind Science
in the Western world. He has had a long career as the Country Head of
Sri Lanka and the Head of the Indian Sub-Continent of an American
Pharmaceutical Multinational company. Presently Aruna conducts Coaching
in Mindfulness to Schools and Companies. Aruna can be contacted at