|Spirituality For Life|
|Page: Mindfulness Overview|
AN OVERVIEW OF MINDFULNESS
Mindfulness is a way of being in the world – it is a clear awareness of the present moment. One is open to the way things are in each moment, without trying to manipulate or change the experience. It is also to meet each moment with kindness. Mindfulness is a way of living, not just a technique.
"In Western traditions, mindfulness is often associated with devotional practices in which we walk with God as our constant companion within us, or apprehend the presence of God. It has been described as looking at the world with the eyes of Christ's love, or as walking with Jesus by our side or within our deepest self at all times. In Jewish Kabbalah, the idea that creation is continually renewing itself moment to moment helps us bring a sense of wonder and awe into every moment, allowing each moment to be one discovery and revelation." [Joel and Michelle Levey, Luminous Mind: Meditation and Mind Fitness (San Francisco: Conari Press, 1999), 77.]
Purpose and Process
The purpose of mindfulness is to meet the mind with openness and care. One can think of the mind as a clear blue sky, and the thoughts (perceptions) and emotions that pass through as weather patterns. Mindfulness is the process, then, of returning again and again to each moment and open awareness to what is happening now. It is a way to be – not pushing away, or grasping. It is simply being open.
Intention and Focus
Mindfulness is not about intending to achieve a goal such as enlightenment or an insight – rather one’s focus is on the process of paying attention. One’s intention is to pay attention to the present moment to the degree that one is able – and to return to the present moment when wandering away.
Thoughts and Suffering
One has thoughts. In mindfulness, one observes them without labelling. One stays in the present with these thoughts. Suffering can occur when a person tries to manipulate thoughts, to change their experience of them, or to evaluate them as happy, sad, or angry. Also, thoughts can take one away from the here and now – into the past, or into the future.
Practice and Outcome
Mindfulness is a practice – that is, one learns to be mindful by practicing being mindful. It is being present with one’s experience from moment to moment – discovering the richness of each moment, and holding what one discovers without judging it, clinging to it, or pushing it away. Nevertheless, there is an outcome – in the process of paying attention, one begins to see oneself and one’s life more clearly.
In mindfulness there is a balance between effort and relaxation. One is engaged and not passive – it is an active way of being in the present. There is effort, but not striving.
In sum, mindfulness is a way for living more fully – of experiencing the awareness of the present moment, without judgment. Its benefits potentially include reducing stress, solving problems, improving health, adding meaning to life, and boosting one’s sense of well-being. Mindfulness enables kindness shown to oneself – in embracing all of one’s inner landscape – and thereby opens the door to having loving kindness to others, indeed to all beings.
A further article on mindfulness is as follows:
Mindfulness in Everyday Life
Source: Above notes based on thoughts taken from Anne Ihnen and Carolyn Flynn, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Mindfulness (New York: Alpha Books, 2008), 1-42.
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