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My career involves lot of self-learning, and self-motivation. I like my work, which is a reason why my work doesn't feel like work. However, I am finding it hard to incorporate Vipassana into my work. For example, if I'm working and I'm in the zone there's a general pleasurable feeling associated with motivation/focus. It's what keeps me going. I feel like it's a mental state that's actually valuable specially in today's society full of procrastination.

However, if I mentally note that sense of motivation/focus, it does fade away, but it makes it harder for me to concentrate and enjoy work. In fact, I even get slightly depressed and begin to hate the work. Then I would mentally note those negative feelings, but they will come back and I begin to feel miserable, and like a robot. Will this go away?

Should I constantly "mental note" my feeling of motivation/focus, similar to how one "mental notes" a feeling of anger? How am I suppose to apply Vipassana in this situation?

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Well, the Buddha “Bhavana” is described as follows. Anyone can benefit from instructions below.

The mind finds gratification in 3 ways.

  1. Judging : It's comparing, measuring things, situations and people. i.e. Mana
  2. Pleasure : One possible outcome of the above is that one finds a person or situation soothing, happy and delightful.
  3. Displeasure : The other outcome is one finds the person or situation depressing, sad and unpleasant.

The 3 things occurs at the same time although one event takes a lead. For example:

  • You smell a warm cup of coffee - The delightful gratification takes a lead. Although the reason you are happy is because in the background you have measured and found something else unsatisfactory.

  • You see someone dead on TV - The unpleasant thought takes a lead. Although the reason you find it depressing is because you have measured living a delightful thing.

  • You see someone driving a nice car - The judging takes a lead. You find your own car does not measure up than the pleasing new other car.

You are given 4 weapons to combat these emotions.

The 4 Weapons

  1. You cannot stop sadness soon even if you wanted. You cannot maintain happiness because it never lasts. The kind of gratification cannot be maintained the way you wish. Things always ends and vanishes and brings suffering in the end. The cup of coffee always cools down and become stale. The dead man on the road is soon forgotten. The nice car gets old and ends up in a junk yard one day. There would not be a need for the Buddhist path had mind constructs (Sankatha) weren't fickle. This principle scales well to all things you establish in your mind whether it is yourself, your parents, children and your possessions.

  2. Infinite compassion. Begin from having compassion for your self first. Then imagine all living beings regardless who they are, live a content life without suffering and find Buddha's path of renunciation. You want others to get the same benefit as you have.

  3. All things are composed of things thus decay. The pretty girl or boy you find lovely gets old and die. Nice things also gets old. All things deteriorates and vanishes because they are compositions. They break down into its component parts and re-joins nature.

  4. Ensure the cycling in the mind stops straight away. Conjure -> (Things always ends and decays. As a result brings suffering in the end.). Do not keep re-visiting but ensure the thought is uprooted for good.

So re-visiting 3 kinds of gratifications above.

  • When your mind does 1 (Judging) -> use weapons 1 followed by 4.
  • When your mind does 2 (Pleasure) -> use weapons 3 followed by 1 and 4.
  • When your mind does 3 (Displeasure) -> use weapons 2 followed by 1 and 4.

Samatha

Imagine your mind is a wild horse. Putting a harness and controlling newly emerged judgemental, pleasurable and displeasurable thought is Samatha. Steps 2 and 3 are Samatha steps.

Vipassana

Uprooting the newly emerged judgemental, pleasurable and displeasurable thought requires step 1. The subsequent step 4 ensures it never recurs. This is Vipassana.

This you can do while lying down, walking, taking a shower, eating and even while in the toilet.

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Most of the jobs in the ordinary human world is either complete opposite of mindfulness or it is hard to apply mindfulness in some of the jobs. This is a challenge for spiritual people. But it is possible that the root of your dissatisfaction with noting/mindfulness is just an ordinary human's dissatisfaction with facing the reality as it is-which makes the ego and sensuality based humans(which is the vast majority of the humans by the way) very uncomfortable. It is not possible to gain insight, purify the mind and attain enlightenment without facing the suffering, make the ego uncomfortable.

Noting is a very effective technique of mindfulness that can give you positive results in a very short period of time. Any person who haven't attained stream-entry must "do" something to be mindful. And doing is most of the time uncomfortable, it is true. But there is no other way for spiritual people untill the attainment of stream-entry. After you attain stream-entry you have spontaneous mindfulness so you don't need to use any methods to be mindful, gain insight and purify the mind.

Here is a very detailed explanation of noting and the benefits of noting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOPHAcz_NI4

Also, most of the people are not aware that they are suffering all the time because they don't have awareness. These answers are related to this subject:

https://buddhism.stackexchange.com/a/31532/700

https://buddhism.stackexchange.com/a/31449/700

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You said you can work with full motivation, focus and concentration. It's what keeps you going. You get a general sense of pleasure associated with it. You feel it's valuable relative to procrastination.

I guess this pleasure is a kind of peace associated with concentration. It's not greed or lustful passion.

I suggest that you continue your excellent method of concentration and focus on work, with a small addition - watch out whenever greed, lustful passion, aversion, anger, jealousy or hatred appear in your mind, and remove it. A peaceful type of pleasure associated with doing work with concentration is OK.

This is in fact, incorporating mindfulness (sati) and clear comprehension (sampajañña) into your work, which is not forgetting to identify and remove negative thoughts, while not forgetting to remain focused and concentrated on the task at hand.

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