My aim, in the beginning, was to be vigil all the time. Whenever I was trapped in the world of aimless thinking; especially the negative type: worrying, stressful thoughts, moaning, etc., it meant I was unconsciousness! I saw it as my duty to be vigil; I would go as far as to say that nothing was more important to me; at that time than having a vigil mind, because I felt this was the key to my mental and spiritual salvation. From the very moment, I woke in the morning until I went to bed was a chance to practice.
I practiced while brushing my teeth; ironing, doing the washing up. While driving I would listen to the sound of the engine or the tires on the road, putting my complete attention on what I was doing. I would look out of my apartment windows and observe the sky, nature or the lady in the red dress! Not thinking about these things, only watching.
Just walking from room to room in the apartment could at times be a challenge to remain vigil. I could walk out of my kitchen with the intention of staying awake, take five steps and thoughts could completely grab my attention away from being vigil and my consciousness would immediately fall asleep again.
I loved practicing in the shower, listening to the sound of the water, feeling the water hit my body, smelling the soap. I would challenge myself before getting in the shower;” I will not allow myself to become unconscious.” Yeah right! Many times I would get in the shower and within seconds fall asleep and not remember to be vigil until hours later.
In fact, in the early days, I would be practicing one moment and then fall asleep into the world of aimless thinking literally for a day or two.
On one occasion I remember being in my hallway, and a worrisome negative thought was just about to overwhelm me. I could feel the flow of negative energy, like a panic attack quickly building. Luckily I was semi-conscious, so I remembered the power of being vigil. I took a deep breath; feeling the air fill my lungs, I focused my attention on what I could see in my hallway; the light fixture that was hanging from the ceiling, the reflection of the handsome fellow in the mirror on the wall (don’t laugh). I did this for about twenty seconds. Miraculously the problem vanished! The negative thought and energy that was just about to consume me twenty seconds earlier had gone! I was confused; I searched within for the negative feeling, but it was not there. I recalled the original thought, but even this had lost its power. I could not believe what had just happened; the old me would have probably spent minutes or an hour worrying about something I could not control. I know this because I had experienced this process many times before. First, the negative thought pattern, then the painful feeling inside and then spend the next few seconds, minutes or hours in a mental hell! But not this time!
This was a powerful demonstration of what being vigil and the effect of awakening my consciousness could have on me. Not only is it wonderful to practice when you are enjoying yourself, like walking in the park or listening to a beautiful piece of music. But more importantly, when you are about to be consumed by some form of negative emotion, you can choose to be vigil and remain in peace instead.