What is Mindfulness?


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Originally published at: https://blog.12min.com/what-is-mindfulness/

Introduction to Mindfulness


It is a pretty self-explanatory term: the mind is fully focused on the present moment and everything that is happening in the “now.”

It may seem like a trivial concept at first, but the deeper you think about it, the more aware you will become of how little we practice mindfulness in our everyday lives.

Humans have what is called “the monkey brain.” In other words, our thoughts jump from one matter to another, from a memory of the past to worry about the future, like a monkey hanging on branches.

This may seem like a harmless human trait, except that it is far from it.

Mindfulness is the cure for anxiety and opens the road to a happier life. It is an abstract concept, and the meaning of mindfulness is hard to explain, and at the same time, it is crucial to understand.

Below, we will try to convey its meaning by following the teachings of some of the most significant spiritual teachers the world knows of.

What is Mindfulness?

Most people live on autopilot.

When we allow ourselves to enter an autopilot mode, we are missing out being present in our lives.

Today’s hectic environment does not make it easy for people to stop themselves from slipping into autopilot.

However, living like this only means that we are obsessed with chasing deadlines and getting things done, instead of enjoying every moment of our lives.

Studies show that the more we let our thoughts wander, the more prone we are to stress, depression, and anxiety.

How to define mindfulness? This mindless state represents the opposite direction leading to prosperity, self-satisfaction, and bliss.

It means taking control of our focus and attention and placing all of it onto the present moment.

When talking about what is mindfulness, Osho said:

“Presence of mind is really a state of no-mind. You can call it mindfulness, awareness, or you can call it a state of no-mind. The words seem to be contradicting each other, but they are indicative of the same state. Presence of mind means to be in the present, to be spontaneous, to be available to whatsoever is happening right now. To be available to here and now is the presence of mind. But the only way to be available to here and now is not to be in the past, not to be in the future.”
As we can notice, Osho places the attention to accentuating the importance of the present moment.

Eckhart Tolle agrees, stating that

“Awareness is the greatest agent for change.”
Furthermore, Jon Kabat Zinn defines mindfulness as:
“Paying attention; On purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”
This short definition shows us the other two crucial components of the concept, aside from the focus on the present moment: on purpose and non-judgment.

In other words, mindfulness is a purposeful act.

We have to consciously decide to shift our attention to what is.

In order not to get stuck in our own thoughts, we need to become observers of what is happening inside our head, without any judgment.

Thich Nhat Hanh teaches that:

"Feelings, whether of compassion or irritation, should be welcomed, recognized, and treated on an absolutely equal basis; because both are ourselves.“
Mooji goes along the same lines saying:
“When the mind adjusts to simply staying here, then that mind is not called mind anymore. It is just Self. It is only ever Self.”
Hence, we must not try to stop any of the thoughts that arise. They are all part of our being.

Moreover, labeling them and trying to fight them will only produce more unwanted thoughts.

You can find opportunities to be mindful everywhere.

You can practice it either formally, or informally.

The formal way of practicing mindfulness is what people call meditation.

The informal practice of mindfulness is practicing it in every moment of your life.

We are not saying that making yourself shift your lifestyle will be easy.

Your habits and the world you live in will give you countless distractions. However, you can always return to your mindful state by focusing on your breath.

Adopting mindfulness as a way of life will transform your world inside and out.

You will find your own self, and you will enjoy every small wonder existing on Earth.

And what can be a better promise than utter and utmost happiness?

How Does Mindfulness work?

Mindfulness Does Not Require Change

You do not have to become different, to become present. Everything you need to do is to become aware of who you are.

It is not a solution that will “fix” what you believe are your shortcomings, but a path on which you can learn to accept and love all of your inner qualities.

The Restless Mind

The constant obsession with what was, what could be, and what will be, takes our attention off the present moment, and hence off our lives.

We drown in regrets about the past, and in worries of the future, and we let our lives pass unlived.

This restlessness of the mind is the root of stress and anxiety, which are the most common enemies of contemporary people.

Ways to Practice Mindfulness

There are two ways you can practice mindfulness: through meditation, or in everyday life.

Meditation practice is usually done sitting or lying down, usually with eyes closed. Most meditations focus on the breath, and on the sensations that arise in the body.

Some meditations can even be done walking, and others involve movement and sounds (mantras).

Mindfulness also can be practiced at all other moments of your life.

Whatever you do can be done with creativity, and with full awareness.

You can swipe the floor, and was the dishes mindfully. You can watch the surroundings on your morning walk mindfully.

In other words, just about any activity can be a practice of mindfulness if you decide it to be so.

Final Notes

We live in a world which has made us too busy to live.

Luckily, mindfulness can become a transformative phenomenon, that can change society, and our experiences for the better.

In fact, as time passes, more and more people try to incorporate it into their lifestyles.

The great thing about mindfulness is that anyone can learn how to do it. However, it should not be used as merely a practice to bring more peace in moments of distress, but it should be considered as a way of life, a diet of the mind.