Maintain the rhythm of the third step throughout the day. This is the best use of the Three Steps method – deepening your mindfulness by continuously applying it to your everyday life. In addition, when there are breaks in your routine, take a few moments and explicitly do the first two steps, resting for several breaths in Presence. Then take the third step forward and resume the mindfulness cycle.
Any time you feel overwhelmed during the day, take a moment to follow the steps to Presence. This is Home! Rest here a while then step forward and return to your activity. There is a saying – “Eight times down, nine times up.” Every time you feel beaten down, return to Presence then step forward into the rhythm of the Third Step. This way, no matter how many times you fall you will still get up.
We have seen how meditation can strengthen our mindfulness practice. Conversely, you can use the Three Steps to deepen your meditation. At the beginning of each meditation period, after settling into your physical posture, observe your state of mind and note the stories streaming through it. The content of Storyland is constantly changing, so use this opportunity to see its characteristics in the new details. Are you fooling yourself into believing the story? What’s different about it that makes it harder for you to see through? Next, deliberately step back from the stories and do the labeling practice to get clearly settled in Orientation. Then take the second step and settle in Presence. Do the just-sitting practice for several moments then step forward and deliberately and clearly begin your meditation practice.
Whenever you find yourself in Storyland, do the Three Steps to return to your meditation.
Deliberately choose to make your decision in Resolution rather than Storyland.
First, follow the steps to Presence. This clears the slate, removing the mind-clutter that clouds your thinking.
Next, step forward into Discovery and clearly identify all the elements of the situation you’re working with. When all objects and salient points are identified, let the situational evaluations arise. These will carry you into Resolution. The picture that comes into focus may include an obvious action to take, several possible actions, or possibly none at all. If action is needed, but none of the alternatives is clearly the best, return to Presence and go through the process again.
It may take several cycles through this process to fully resolve the issue; each time through you’ll drop off more leftover stories, sift out more inconsequential elements, and more clearly identify your action alternatives, so that eventually the most appropriate one is the only one remaining – then step forward and take action wholeheartedly. In poetic terms, this is action that is fully ripe, happening like a plum dropping from the tree at just the right moment.