What is mindfulness?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do/with your one wild and precious life?
-Mary Oliver The Summer Day
Left to itself our minds can stray through all kinds of thoughts- anger, craving, depression, revenge, self-pity; what we like, what we don’t like in life.
As we get involved in these kinds of thoughts we reinforce them and create “thinking stories” which we attach to. These stories are mostly about ruminating about the past or becoming anxious about the future. But the past no longer exists and the future has not happened. The one moment we can actually experience — the present moment, which can shine with vitality and life — is the one we seem least to live in.
In mindfulness we’re concerned with noticing what’s going on right now. That doesn’t mean we no longer think about the past or future, but when we do so we do by intentionally bringing our awareness, our sense of focus, towards our present moment experience, and we create spaciousness in our hearts and minds where choice, equanimity, compassion and a sense of liberation can flourish. A very important aspect of our mindfulness training is the development of compassion, relating to ourselves with a warm sense of curiosity and acceptance.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center talks of mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”
Mindfulness is a responsive state. We don’t judge that this experience is good and that one is bad; that would be reinforcing our likes/dislikes. Our practice is to turn towards whatever arises with a sense of acceptance and compassion. We observe mindfully, we notice our thoughts as self arising, self displaying and self liberating and ceasing to exist.
Mindfulness is about “coming back to our senses”, becoming more intimate and in touch with ourselves, with others and our surroundings in the present moment, in touch with what’s actually happening now. It is a natural state of presence in which we can feel more connected, real and alive.
Mindfulness is a state of being which is accessible to every one of us. It is also a skill which we can cultivate more deeply in our lives. I invite you to bring your life into focus and join me in a mindful journey into your one wild and precious life.