This particular part of the practice starts by our becoming aware of preferences as they present themselves. The sooner we become aware of our preferences and the more familiar we are with how our minds behave in the face of our likes and dislikes, the sooner we will become skilled in being able to pause before speaking or acting which offers us a greater potential of allowing wisdom to become the greater part of our process.
The more we investigate preferences, the more we will see how they arise and howour they affect our lives. Hint: As soon as you notice a pattern occurring, whether in thought, speech or action, immediately bring your investigative focus to whether or not there is a feeling tone (pleasant, unpleasant or neutral) concomitant with the pattern in either or both the body and the mind. Ask yourself, ‘Does this pattern comfort me? How? Why?’ Then ask yourself, ‘Does this object/experience create further sequences of pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral feelings in the body or the mind?’ The less we allow preferences to move from pleasantness to liking, to wanting/not wanting, the greater the potential for Wisdom to arise.
Take another careful look at your list of activities of daily living and the schedule you made, especially look at those activities that define you as a human being. As an example, all humans must eat. We must sleep. We must attend to our bodies with cleaning, toileting, addressing sexual impulses, maintaining health/strength. And we must attend to our surroundings in regards to safety and interaction with other humans and other species, to name just a few examples. These are the types of hard-wired necessities that our entire lives are built upon. A Householder’s activities are a construction of these basic human needs. Genetically we are hardwired to do certain things. How these activities manifest will be different depending on
the society, history, context and the character of the individual.
The roots of these types of activities are the most difficult to watch or understand with our rational minds. It takes special meditative effort to break through the veils of these basic habits. It is helpful and important to pay attention while on retreat because they will affect your choices and behaviors. Pay particular attention to hunger, tiredness, pleasantness and/or anxiety/fear. What do they feel like in the body and the mind? How do they affect our thoughts, speech and behaviors? Are they mixed with pleasantness or unpleasantness? The more intimate and familiar we are to such basic human experiences, the stronger the probability of not succumbing to them and reacting out of habit rooted in desire/aversion/ignorance. Hunger or sleepiness might arise but instead of grabbing an apple, having a cup of tea or taking a nap, we continue with our commitment to the schedule.