Pre-word: Awareness and acceptance of reality as-it-is, in the present moment. And, Let it go!
Today, mindfulness is a common word appearing everywhere in offices, schools, meditation retreats, magazines, etc. There are several misconceptions surrounding mindfulness meditation. Few examples are: it is a religious practice, it is done for relaxation, it is difficult to live mindfully, it is a theory only and to be studied by monks or recluse type people, or it is about stopping thoughts. None of these assumptions are true.
So in simple words, what is mindfulness and mindlessness?
Mindfulness is awareness and acceptance of present-moment reality as-it-is. In simple words, paying attention to what’s going on “now” without forming a cloud of judgment—Good or Bad. Yet, remaining fully observant of the experience. For example, if you are sitting in a beautiful garden and experiencing the vibrant colors of flowers, fresh breeze, perfumed air, sounds of dancing wind passing through trees. And, you are absorbing the fullness of life but not making a judgment that is it better than yesterday or if sunlight is more than it will be better now etc. Then you are mindful.
We know that our common experience is made by contact of senses with the external and/or internal world. We have a long list of senses (30+) that make our world of human experience. Following are a few examples:
- Five basic external senses: touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste
- Internal mental sense: thoughts, feelings, sensations
- Other senses like a sense of space, weight, and balance, etc
Human senses produce sensations of different kinds. Mindfulness can be practiced for all sensations produced in our body and mind complex by being aware of them and accept what they bring to us as messengers of experiences. The key is to be aware, accept the reality of experience in the present moment in a non-judgmental way. This ensures full experience in the present moment. Thereupon let it go, as nothing remains permanent.
The practice of mindfulness can start from your simple breathing. There are several benefits of starting with breath as an object of mindfulness meditation. For example, breathing is always happening—in sleep, dream, or waking state. It can be voluntary or non-voluntary. It is integrated with your physical and mental modes and influence them directly and immediately. Can you be mindful of breath? This may be your first step of mindful living.
On the other hand, Mindlessness is not being there where you are. It makes you rush through activities without being attentive to them. Sometimes to the extent that you fail to notice subtle feelings of physical tension or discomfort as the mind is preoccupied with thoughts of futuristic planning or worries or maybe past memories haunt you. The result is simply losing awareness of present moment reality.
Wish you a merry and mindful life!!
PS: Hope this blog removed some of the misconceptions and clarified the definition of mindfulness.