List some things you do on a regular basis. Think on the reasons you have for doing them, whether you do them effectively and what you could do to improve upon that.
List some of the major changes that have happened in your life. How have these experiences changed you? How have they prepared you to deal with present and future situations? Consider both positive and negative changes.
List some of those things which you consider to be achievements. What makes these things stand out as such for you? Why are they things you consider to be positive experiences?
List some events you consider to be negative experiences. Why do you consider them such? Is there nothing positive about them that you can think of? If there are, does this change your perception of the experience?
These questions are designed to help students understand about themselves in an environmental context – essentially, how they approach various situations and tasks and what they understand about their motives for performing them. It also enables them to comprehend why they see different situations as being positive ones, while others are considered negative. Since they need to give some thought to these, it will become clear to them that all circumstances will have both positive and negative consequences and influences on them – essentially helping them to realise that their impression of events is entirely dependent on their state of mind at the time. This is essential for understanding the later methodologies we apply as part of our training and overall practice.
As they come to learn the methodology of Mindfulness, it is often helpful to revisit their answers to these questions and see if they can find any new perspectives on the different experiences they have had. This will help to solidify their understanding of the fickle nature of perception and also give them opportunity to test their ability to be objective by giving them opportunity to analyse their past experiences using different apparatus than they had during the experiences in question.