What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is all the rage these days. You must have heard about mindfulness and benefits of mindfulness in daily lives. At times you must have thought that mindfulness meditation is just another new age trend like those fitness exercises you read about regularly in popular fitness magazines.
However, it is not true.
Mindfulness meditation is much more than just a temporary fitness fad. Mindfulness is the essence of life- a real way of living wholeheartedly with a non-judgemental presence. It is not chanting of mantras, concentrating at a point, or just sitting cross-legged with eyes closed with no idea about what you are supposed to do!!
So, what is mindfulness?
In the simplest words, mindfulness is a non-judgemental and non-attached awareness of the present moment as it is. When you are doing mindfulness meditation, you simply experience what is going on at this moment as a distant observer without getting emotionally involved in the moment.
Sound simple enough? Yes and No.
Let me ask you a question? Have you ever experienced a time when you just felt yourself in the moment without any anxiety about future or regrets of past? That perfect sunset or sunrise when you were simply aware of the beauty unfolding before you?
Or those few moments of a long stroll in nature with cold winds against you face?
Sometimes, even after an intense workout, you become aware of every single breath you are taking and your heart beating against your chest.
Remember the feeling of inexplicable peace and joy that follows after those moments.
Yes, those are in fact moments of mindfulness. The moments when you are acutely aware of the present moment with whatever is happening around you and inside you.
And when you consciously take out time to be mindful for an extended period of time, you can call it as mindfulness meditation. It is as easy as that. Mindfulness meditation is nothing but a break from the constant chatter of your mind and observing that chatter with it in a non-attached manner.
The best examples of mindfulness are kids and babies involved in something. They do not worry or think about past or future, they are simply immersed in the present moment playing with their toys or flashing their innocent smile at you. They do not judge anybody and simply experience the moment as it unfolds.
The same is the case with your pet dog. It always comes happily towards you in the evening when you get back to work even though you did not feed him yourself in the morning.
Even if you are not in a mood to play with it and send it away, it goes back to whatever it was doing before you came. It won’t sulk around or complain and become sad due to your behavior. This is a perfect example of a non-judgemental, mindful behavior.
Human beings are different, though. They have got brains and power to think. While the ability to think and make decisions is surely the most wonderful gifts of God to us, the problem is it is not who we are.
When you do mindfulness meditation, you start to discover the consciousness which makes you aware of surroundings, your body, emotions and everything. This consciousness goes beyond your physical brain and thoughts.
Deeper Purpose of Mindfulness Meditation
On a deeper level, mindfulness meditation helps you to uncover that consciousness which lies beyond the brain and thoughts. The consciousness that makes you aware that you are thinking or having a particular thought.
Have you ever stopped and wondered who is it that is having a thought? Is it you? But if it is you, you can also be aware and observe yourself having that thought? Then what is that awareness or consciousness ? Is it separate from you?
You may get or not get this conundrum at first glance. However, you will begin to feel a deep sense of calm and peace on being aware of that consciousness after you start doing mindfulness meditation.
In fact, you can be mindful here and now as you are reading these lines. Be aware of your thoughts going around as you read these words, be aware of the white spaces between words, and be mindful of your breath at the same time.
The truth is you can be mindful at any time of the day. Although I am using mindfulness and mindfulness meditation interchangeably here, the fact is that there could be a minor difference between mindfulness and meditation. I’d suggest you visit the link mentioned in the previous sentence if you want to go deeper else you can continue reading here about mindfulness meditation.
The immediate and important purpose of mindfulness is to take a break from incessant chatter of the mind and take out some time to ensure peace and mental well-being of yourself.
The most significant key to mindfulness remains- non-judgemental and non-attached awareness of the present moment. This attitude is what is mindfulness meditation.
Now that present moment can be just when you are sitting with your eyes closed and being aware of your breathing. Or it can be when you are washing your dishes and be aware of the cold water running over your fingers and hands touching the utensils.
You can also be mindful when you walking down the stair paying attention to the feeling beneath your feet and the movement of your legs.
You can be mindful at any point of your waking moment even right now when you are reading this article and aware of your eye movement, the white background of your screen and of the feeling of just being aware that you are reading. You can discover the answer to “What is mindfulness? ” in every action you do daily!
These can be all types of mindfulness meditation which allow you to stay in the moment and accept the moment as it is.
So, you see there can be many aspects to mindfulness but the idea remains same- non-attached and non-judgemental awareness of the present moment.
Now that you know what is mindfulness meditation, find about how to do mindfulness meditation.
If you have ever done mindfulness meditation or are a regular practitioner, do leave a comment and share your experience with us to help inspire other people to take a break from themselves!