Awakening is a process through which the mind clearly comprehends the stress that arises due to craving and clinging, that is, wanting pleasurable mind states, wanting to be rid of unpleasant mind states, and clinging to provisional, transient identifications in the mind that seem to define a permanent self, but are, in fact, just constructions of imagination. The underpinning of awakening is the development of ongoing self-awareness, typically best accomplished through intensive meditation retreat practice, accompanied by a commitment to daily meditation when not on retreat.

What I’m attempting to do here is to point out how the skills of introspection and impulse regulation developed during retreat experiences can be applied at home. The essence of Buddhist practices is how we live on a daily basis. It is hoped that the following will help in this way.

These are aspects of life experience that are relevant to spiritual development:

Right Speech

  • Monitoring the selfing story
  • Careful listening to others
  • Considered, respectful, compassionate responses
  • Situational appropriateness

Right Action

  • Purposeful, helpful action
  • Harmonious to others’ need
  • Efficient use of resources
  • Avoiding impulsive, reactive behavior
  • Routine acts of generosity
  • Regular gratitude inventory
  • Avoiding addictive substances & behaviors

Right Livelihood

  • Avoiding over stimulation
  • Adequate rest & exercise
  • Healthy food in moderation
  • Not causing unnecessary environmental harm
  • Not causing unnecessary cultural harm
  • Time & effort dedicated to spiritual growth
  • Proactive health maintenance
  • Prudent financial management
  • Voluntary simplicity

Right Relationship

  • Adequate social contact & support
  • Interpersonal respect
  • Active support for community
  • Balance between enmeshment and autonomy
  • Making amends when appropriate
  • Offering compassion & generosity
  • Willingness to be influenced by others

These are application of Buddhist “skillful means” which support life experience:


  • Using body awareness (breath sensation & elsewhere)
  • Vitakka & vicara (aiming & sustaining)
  • Meditating daily at least 45 minutes to cultivate samadhi.
  • Four Clear Comprehensions (Sati Sampajanna)
    1. Spiritually worthy goal
    2. Spiritually suitable means to reach goal
    3. Spiritual domain (body, feelings, mind, objects)
    4. Spiritual integrity (impermanent, suffering, impersonal)

Right Effort (support arising of wholesome, non-arising of unwholesome)

Compassionate awareness: “I’m witnessing suffering”

Equanimity & patience

Renunciation & generosity

Studying & talking about the Dhamma

Active involvement in a spiritual community

by Peter Carlson