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The Four Stages of Waking Up

Personalized support for learning how to integrate mindfulness into your life. Delivered fresh everyday by our world renowned experts. Choose meditation duration:

Hi, and welcome to your Daily Mindfulness. Today, I'm going to talk about the four stages of competence that we go through when learning mindfulness as spoken about in Rick hanson's really awesome book, the Buddha's Brain. So stage one is called unconscious incompetence. So to begin with, in meditation practice, we're so caught up in our patterns of thought and behavior that we don't even know we're caught up in them. We're completely identified with the mind.

In this stage, we tend to repeat the same unhelpful thought patterns again and again in loop. So how this shows up in meditation is that we might find ourselves just constantly being caught up in thoughts, struggling with emotions, or just really unable to stay present with the breath. We may keep getting caught up in worries, negative thinking, strong emotions, restlessness, for example. Or we might just totally phase out during meditation. So after some time in practice, we move into stage two, which is called conscious incompetence.

So as we practice mindfulness, we start to become more aware about thoughts and emotions and our behavioral patterns and how they're affecting us. This is often the trickiest phase of the four stages, because it can be really uncomfortable to be more aware of the unhelpful patterns we have and the suffering they cause, but not yet quite have developed enough mindfulness to be able to set ourselves free from them. This stage is where many people want to quit. Before we move on, two things that really help during this phase. One is understanding that it's not personal what your mind is doing.

What your crazy mind is doing, all of our crazy minds do. It's just part of the shared human condition that our minds get caught up in all this kind of stuff. The other thing is learning self-compassion. So instead of beating yourself up for not being able to master everything right away, seeing if you can have the attitude towards yourself that you would have towards a child learning to ride a bike. And give yourself gentle encouragement to simply try again, knowing that it's normal to fall a few times before you fly.

Okay. So stage three is conscious competence. As mindfulness starts to become familiar and we kind of get the hang of it, difficult thoughts and feelings still arise, but we're no longer so identified with them. So because we're less caught up and reactive to them because we've learned to be the observer of our thoughts, to allow them to rise and pass away without always disturbing our inner state, we feel a lot more calm and grounded within. Of course, we still get caught out sometimes, but a lot of the time we don't.

And so we're more able to respond to life with awareness instead of reacting out of habit. And stage four, unconscious competence. At some point along the way, after a long time of consistently practicing mindfulness, it just kind of becomes second nature to be present, non-reactive and non-judgemental. To some degree, the practice becomes effortless or without too much effort, in the same way that driving a car becomes effortless after a lot of practice. You just don't really have to think about it anymore.

So like anything in life, you can have faith that the more effort you put in, the more benefits you'll gain. And although some stages on the path will feel a little bit difficult, you can be confident that with continued practice, you'll be a more calm, compassionate, and happy person. So as always, thank you for your practice and your presence here with us. And let's now settle in for today's meditation.

Melli O'Brien

4.8

The Four Stages of Waking Up

Personalized support for learning how to integrate mindfulness into your life. Delivered fresh everyday by our world renowned experts. Choose meditation duration:

Duration

Your default time is based on your progress and is changed automatically as you practice.

Hi, and welcome to your Daily Mindfulness. Today, I'm going to talk about the four stages of competence that we go through when learning mindfulness as spoken about in Rick hanson's really awesome book, the Buddha's Brain. So stage one is called unconscious incompetence. So to begin with, in meditation practice, we're so caught up in our patterns of thought and behavior that we don't even know we're caught up in them. We're completely identified with the mind.

In this stage, we tend to repeat the same unhelpful thought patterns again and again in loop. So how this shows up in meditation is that we might find ourselves just constantly being caught up in thoughts, struggling with emotions, or just really unable to stay present with the breath. We may keep getting caught up in worries, negative thinking, strong emotions, restlessness, for example. Or we might just totally phase out during meditation. So after some time in practice, we move into stage two, which is called conscious incompetence.

So as we practice mindfulness, we start to become more aware about thoughts and emotions and our behavioral patterns and how they're affecting us. This is often the trickiest phase of the four stages, because it can be really uncomfortable to be more aware of the unhelpful patterns we have and the suffering they cause, but not yet quite have developed enough mindfulness to be able to set ourselves free from them. This stage is where many people want to quit. Before we move on, two things that really help during this phase. One is understanding that it's not personal what your mind is doing.

What your crazy mind is doing, all of our crazy minds do. It's just part of the shared human condition that our minds get caught up in all this kind of stuff. The other thing is learning self-compassion. So instead of beating yourself up for not being able to master everything right away, seeing if you can have the attitude towards yourself that you would have towards a child learning to ride a bike. And give yourself gentle encouragement to simply try again, knowing that it's normal to fall a few times before you fly.

Okay. So stage three is conscious competence. As mindfulness starts to become familiar and we kind of get the hang of it, difficult thoughts and feelings still arise, but we're no longer so identified with them. So because we're less caught up and reactive to them because we've learned to be the observer of our thoughts, to allow them to rise and pass away without always disturbing our inner state, we feel a lot more calm and grounded within. Of course, we still get caught out sometimes, but a lot of the time we don't.

And so we're more able to respond to life with awareness instead of reacting out of habit. And stage four, unconscious competence. At some point along the way, after a long time of consistently practicing mindfulness, it just kind of becomes second nature to be present, non-reactive and non-judgemental. To some degree, the practice becomes effortless or without too much effort, in the same way that driving a car becomes effortless after a lot of practice. You just don't really have to think about it anymore.

So like anything in life, you can have faith that the more effort you put in, the more benefits you'll gain. And although some stages on the path will feel a little bit difficult, you can be confident that with continued practice, you'll be a more calm, compassionate, and happy person. So as always, thank you for your practice and your presence here with us. And let's now settle in for today's meditation.

Melli O'Brien

4.8

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