Chomtong, Chiangmai Thailand (2009)

Buddhism and the practice of insight meditation aims to reduce suffering through obtaining an understanding of the mind. One aspect of the mind that is crucial to the effectiveness of the meditaiton technique is the nature of habits, how they form and strengthen. Another way to describe the process of habit formation is the word karma. For example, the Buddha explained to us that the cause of laziness is  a lazy omission — not doing work when there is work to be done.

Because of this reality seemingly small actions or omissions can have considerable consequences over time. This can be a detriment to us if we have a lot of bad habits but it can also be a boon for us because it means that, even small actions such as bringing the mind to the present for one thought moment, can have significant positive impact over time.

Getting back to our example, the cure for laziness and other unfortunate habits is mindfulness because through mindfulness we gain an understanding of the effect of a bad habit. Once that effect is clearly understood we will be less interested in causing it to arise again. A moment of mindfulness repeated over and over, each moment conditioned by the last, can also be used as a tool to overcome craving to return to a familiar bad habit. Therefore, insight meditation is a very effective way to reduce bad habits and replace them with the good habit of being mindful so that our long term consequences will be positive.

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