Mindfulness is an invitation to be present to our life.
So the basic training in mindfulness is really simple: it is cultivating a clear and kind attention to what’s here.
This quality of presence is made of two wings, as described by the clinical psychologist and meditation Tara Brach:
- The wing of awareness or recognizing: clear seeing of what is present here and now
- The wing of loving presence or allowing: not judging or trying to manipulate or evaluate, but a loving care from which a wise response can be born
We begin with pausing, stopping the doing, listening to our heart and remembering what matters to us, asking ourselves, what do I care about?
Setting our intention before starting our meditation practice is very important. We set our intention by tuning inside and getting in touch with our wish to really be all that we can be, to manifest our innate potential. Our intention is embodied and heartfelt: when it’s right, we feel it in our entire body.
What happens when we meditate?
When we sit down to meditate, the first step is to bring some level of relaxation to the body and mind. We can do this by settling in into the body, taking a few slow deep breaths, grounding ourselves by bringing our attention to our senses (hearing the sounds around us, noticing the smells, the taste in our mouth, noticing the contact of the chair or cushion with our body, the touch of our clothes on our skin, the air on our skin etc…), and practicing the body scan.
The second step is to practice being present to whatever experience arises, seeing clearly what’s here, without reacting to it, simply watching and opening to our experience, moment by moment. For this, we need to learn how to concentrate selectively, to be able to hold our attention on one particular anchor, and be aware of distractions. In this state of mindfulness, we have the potential to become a very alert and impartial observer, and this allows us to break free of old beliefs, habits and fantasies, so we can approach each situation as a fresh experience. It allows us to see and understand what the causes of suffering are for ourselves and others, and to see the possibility for greater peace and happiness in our lives.
Mindfulness meditation has the power to transform all aspects of our life, as our formal practice teaches us to be less reactive, more discerning, and to make wiser choices. We cultivate supportive attitudes that will help us in everyday situations and interactions: patience, non-judgement, friendliness, acceptance….
We learn to act from a place of peace, trust and stillness.
As we purify our hearts and minds, as we learn to cultivate wholesome states that bring about peace, it not only transforms our lives but it affects everyone around us. This is the gift of our practice to everyone we meet.