What is mindfulness?
“Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment without judgement, and is characterised by interest, friendliness and clear seeing.”
It is an ancient Buddhist practice to awaken our consciousness and help us to live in harmony with ourselves and the world around us. It is an invitation to appreciate the fullness of each living moment, and to be in touch with the whole of our being.
Thich Nhat Hanh (Vietnamese Buddhist monk who has created a mindfulness community in the south of France, Plum Village)
“Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present and alive, body and mind united. Mindfulness is the energy that helps us to know what is going on in the present moment. I drink water and I know that I am drinking water. Drinking the water is what is happening.
Mindfulness brings concentration. When we drink water mindfully, we concentrate on drinking. If we are concentrated, life is deep, and we have more joy and stability. We can drive mindfully, we can cut carrots mindfully, we can shower mindfully. When we do things this way, concentration grows. When concentration grows we gain insight into our lives.”
In our modern fast-paced society, one of the great difficulties is that we lose touch with ourselves and we also lose touch with what matters. Presence is not easy, it goes against the grain of our greedy, speedy, competitive culture. We can get caught for years on a track of getting things done through the day, and not really living our moments
How to practice Mindfulness?
The basic training is really simple, it’s a training in presence, in cultivating a clear and kind attention, a relaxed attentiveness to what’s there in each passing moment. As we sit and quiet our mind, we will encounter what is happening in our life, and become aware of aspects of our life that we were ignoring or trying to suppress. While it is a simple practice, it requires a regular discipline and a strong commitment to sustain it. It is really helpful to remember our initial intention, the reason why we were drawn to meditation in the first place.
Tara Brach – “Presence is not some exotic state that we need to search for or manufacture. In the simplest terms, it is the felt sense of wakefulness, openness and tenderness that arises when we are fully here and now with our experience. You’ve surely tasted presence, even if you didn’t call that. Perhaps you’ve felt it lying awake in bed and listening to crickets on a hot summer night. You might have sensed presence while walking alone in the woods. You might have arrived in full presence as you witnessed someone dying or being born. Presence is the awareness that is intrinsic to our nature. It is immediate and embodied, perceived through our senses.”
The poet Rumi asked: “Do you pay regular visits to yourself?”. And a large part of this training is about paying regular visits to ourselves, to deepen our listening presence, so we can become clearer on what matters to us. This capacity for presence will carry you throughout the joys and sorrows of your life, it is a gift to yourself and those around you.