- What is mindfulness?
It is both simple and complex, but not always easy!
At the heart of mindfulness practice is the understanding that simply by observing the embodied mind (our experiences – both physical and mental), without commentary, judgment or attachment, peace of mind and compassion (for oneself and others) will arise. We also find that physical pain is easier to bear, and mental agitation, anxiety and stress no longer affect us as much as they would have done in the past. Our experience becomes lighter and more enjoyable, and we feel more awake and alive.
- How do we practice mindfulness?
- by paying attentionto everything that goes on in the embodied mind, without judgment, commentary or attachment
- being alive and awake in the present moment
- developing a stable posture – the breath as focus
- attending to our experiences and changing how we relate to our experiences
- calmly observing how everything changes and passes away
OBSERVE – ACCEPT – GIVE THANKS – LET GO
- Mindfulness involves:
- slow and gentle clear-sighted contemplation
- letting go – rather than clinging on to
- being kind to oneself and to others
mindfulness can be considered as an OBSERVATORY, LABORATORY & REFUGE
- Mindfulness helps us:
- understand and appreciate who we are and how we are in the world
- take care of ourselves and feel kinship for others
- calm the non-stop chatter in our minds
- experience with greater clarity, enjoyment and peace
- be alive to this moment – instead of clinging to past and future
- see thoughts, feelings, moods and fears as passing events – like clouds or waves – instead of seeing them as solid things that weigh us down
- become less reactive and more balanced
- gently regain control of our lives – not being ruled by our habits or tossed about by our thoughts and emotions
- observe and dissolve the chain of mental events that draws us into depression, anxiety, helplessness and hopelessness
- stop wanting to be someone else, or to be somewhere else, or to need something else –because by wanting things to be different we lose sight of who we are and what we already have – we only add to the compulsive mental chatter that causes discomfort, worry, fear or tension – only by not chasing after what might be can we wake up to who we are and what is
- There is a large body of scientific evidence showing how beneficial mindfulness can be in dealing with stress, anxiety and pain – not by trying to repress or turn away from feelings of anxiety and pain, but simply by observing and accepting them for what they are.
As John Kabat-Zinn puts it: “coming to terms with things as they are is my definition of healing” – or at least, it can start the healing process.
Usually there is more right with us than wrong! Pain is the physical sensation in the body, suffering is our reaction to the pain.
By reducing the tendency to over-react, panic, judge and be stressed, mindfulness is a very positive healing process. Being mindful involves being less judgmental and acquisitive, enabling us to be more attentive, caring and compassionate – towards ourselves and towards others.