Mindfulness Practice

What is Mindfulness?

"Do you have the patience to wait till your mind settles
and the water is clear?"
Can you remain unmoving
till the right action arises by itself?"
Lao Tzu.

The great paradox of mindfulness is that its very simplicity is almost impossible to describe and to define accurately. This is because mindfulness is an experiential activity, which has to be experienced to be known. Jon Kabat-Zinn has described it thus:

“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgementally”

Some other definitions are,

“The state of being attentive to and aware of what is taking place in the present” (Brown & Ryan)

“Mindfulness is the path by which you can heed the call to live fully and be well” (Jack Kornfield)

Most of us are not present to our own experience for the biggest part of our time. That is to say we are unaware of what we are feeling in the moment of feeling it, of what we are sensing in the moment of sensing it, of what we are doing as we are doing it and of what we are thinking as we are thinking it. We move through our days automatically, without fully being attentive to each moment. In this way we actually miss the experience of each moment because we have been in some other moment – either in the imagined future or in the past, reminiscing, regretting or going over and over past events.

An experience which seems to be common to many people is that of driving the car and suddenly realising that miles have been travelled without our having been aware of having travelled them Or of eating a meal and realising that we have finished it before we were aware of starting it or tasting it!

All of this future or past thinking serves to keep us away from what is actually going on for us in this very moment. The ultimate sadness of this absenteeism is that it is quite possible to arrive at the end of life without ever having lived it. In other words we have lived without having been present to our own lives.

Mindfulness is the vehicle by which we can return to our present and be fully awake to each passing moment.To develop a capacity to notice what is contained in our passing moments and to do so without judging our experiences or ourselves is to nurture mindfulness. Working in this way can bring us healing and transformation.

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