I'm having immense troubles with maintaining mindfulness during the day. Is it really as simple as noting whatever is prominent? Do I just need to stick with it?

Generally, I'm confused as to what exactly to note / not note. For example....

When I'm walking around at my job, I see people whom I have a desire for to like me. Others, I don't care so much, and sometimes there is some disdain for these people.

In these times I feel like if I focus on and note the walking or movements of the body or tension in the body, I'm neglecting my attachment / aversion to the person I'm seeing, the unwholesome thoughts and feelings that have arisen, etc.- and vise versa! When I note the thoughts/feelings/tension etc, I feel like maybe I'm just making a stink out of stuff and causing more stress than is beneficial, but maybe I'm wrong.

These times sometimes seem like an endless stream of physical tension / mental anguish / restlessness, and it causes a lot of dysfunction and anxiety in me, and sometimes I just give up and ditch mindfulness until my next formal session, or at least until I get away from these people.

I'll admit that I've seemed to have had success with noting in these moments one time, the other day. Anxiety left me alone for a bit and I was able to joke around with some of these people who I tend to so desperately want to like me. I felt free of that desperate want for them to like me for a bit. That's certainly a step up from feeling paralyzed by anxiety, even if it is mostly just worldly pleasure.

But I still have so much doubt and hopelessness built up that I really would love to hear some other's experiences in these situations, hopefully someone who also practices Mahasi Sayadaw's noting method. Again I'd like to ask, because maybe I just need a kick in the pants, do I just need to stick with it? I've watched a video on how Yuttadhammo dealt with anxiety and he basically said "stick with it even though your body might be freaking out and it might even be obvious to those around you, and maybe you'll be having a terrible time. Eventually you'll get a handle on it". I'm very much paraphrasing. :)

Thanks in advance.

4 Answers 4


I'm not familiar with Yuttadhammo Bhikku, but from a short look at his teaching I believe the key is that one should not be noting things; one should be noting mind movements. For instance, looking at the discussion of vipassana on his website, he says this:

The Four Foundations of Mindfulness are:

  • Body: Noting the body while prostrating, walking, and sitting.
  • Feelings: Noting pain as “pain”, happiness as “happy” and calm as “calm”.
  • Mind: Noting thoughts about past or future – both good and bad – as “thinking”.
  • Dhammas: Noting hindrances as:

    1. “liking”
    2. “disliking”
    3. “drowsiness”
    4. “distraction”
    5. “doubt”

Now, this is within the context of meditation, but notice the focus. He doesn't want you to notice (say) that you like the color of the head monk's robe; he wants you to notice that a feeling of 'liking' has arisen in you, without necessarily paying attention to the external focus of that feeling. You notice it arise, you notice it persist, you notice it fade...

Translate this to walking through your office: If you encounter a person whom you wish would like you, notice the desire to be liked rise in you. If you encounter a person you dislike, notice the disdain rise. If you have a moment of anxiety, notice the anxiety. You don't need to do anything other than notice. When you bring these large movements of the mind into conscious focus they will start to shift and dissolve of their own accord. Then you do it with more subtle mind-movements, and even more subtle ones, until your mind is perfectly calm and still.

Try to keep in mind that the people and things that you encounter do not cause the movements of your mind. You make them, when you form attachments to what these people and things represent to you, and those attachments drag through your mind like a rope pulled through water. Unless you notice the movement, you won't be able to see the attachment.


The Buddha taught mindfulness (is like a gatekeeper) that removes unwholesome thoughts and maintains wholesome thoughts & mental states. The Buddha taught the following about mindfulness:

One recollects that Dhamma (the Teaching of the Path) and thinks it over. Whenever ... recollects (brings to mind) that Dhamma and thinks it over, on that occasion the enlightenment factor of mindfulness is aroused...

SN 46.3

One is mindful to abandon wrong view & to enter & remain in right view: This is one's right mindfulness.

One is mindful to abandon wrong thought/resolve & to enter & remain in right thought/resolve: This is one's right mindfulness.

One is mindful to abandon wrong speech & to enter & remain in right speech: This is one's right mindfulness.

One is mindful to abandon wrong action & to enter & remain in right action: This is one's right mindfulness.

One is mindful to abandon wrong livelihood & to enter & remain in right livelihood: This is one's right mindfulness.

Maha-cattarisaka Sutta

For example, at work, you should be particularly mindful to practise right speech, namely, abstinence from false speech, abstinence from divisive speech, abstinence from harsh speech, abstinence from idle chatter.

The word 'mindfulness' ('sati') means 'to remember', 'bring to mind' or 'maintain in the mind' the teachings or the factors of the Path that was previously learned in the past. 'Mindfulness' does not mean to be aware of what is occurring in the present moment.

However, when mindfulness always keeps the mind wholesome, the mind will naturally or automatically be aware of what is occurring in the present moment.

Hopefully, if you only focus on: (i) keeping unwholesome thoughts out of the mind; (ii) maintaining wholesome thoughts in the mind; and (iii) practising right speech, then your practise in daily life will be much more simple, uncluttered & unconfusing for you.


According to the buddha the result of mindfulness is the lack of ''covetousness and greed for the world''. Anxiety is not the result of mindfulness.

Anxiety and worry in pali is typically uddhaccakukkucca


so first read this and the suttas which talk about uddhaccakukkucca. It is one of the 5 nīvaraṇas , ie hindrances.

And naturally the way to starve this hindrance is the opposite, ie passaddhi-sambojjhaṅga, ie tranquility, which concretely means the jhanas. http://www.palikanon.com/english/wtb/b_f/bojjhanga.htm

First you begin with mindfulness. Try to be like Nanda:

  • be mindful of thoughts and avoid bad thoughts
  • be mindful of feelings and compare feelings before the jhanas and after the jhanas (normally the feelings of the jhanas are better)
  • be mindful of perceptions and compare perceptions before the jhanas and after the jhanas (normally the perceptions of the jhanas are better)

you must be good at ''guarding of the doors of the senses'', at sati , at sampajanna, at ''wakefulness'' at ''moderation in eating'' https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an08/an08.009.than.html

All this work is just for ''mindfulness''. Then you need to develop the other ''factors for enlightenment''

As usual with the buddha, samadhi and rapture and all that are brought up by ''mental factors'' https://www.buddha-vacana.org/sutta/samyutta/maha/sn46-051.html

ie you have to work on your mind to get them. There is no physical objects which can get you into samadhi. You must directly work with the mind and clean it. Which concretely means having good thoughts [ie renunciation and non ill-will] all the time, which is normally what you do with ''mindfulness''.

then when your thoughts are good, the buddha says that rapture and samadhi will arise https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an11/an11.002.than.html


Yes I also practiced mental noting .And had situations like you speak .But I figured out after a long time that this technique is not a button that you can click on to connect or to be in mindfulness mode all the time.When used this way it turns into a reality that an illusive self is trying to project .Thus your ego is trying to be mindful and he is not satisfied with the results.So he keeps on asking where should my attention be,why didn't mental noting work this time .How can I stay or maintain that state .This is all conceptual illusion by the ego,to get more credibility .But actually the goal of mindfulness is not to gain anything but to lose all attachments including to that of the ego false person who wants to do or maintain things,thus there is an emptiness where everything can happen without a doer .

Mental noting can be good if you use it while mediating as an inquiry method that can eventually prove to you that all phenomenas are impersonal including the feeling of you as a person who wants certain results and feels life is doing things to him.

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