Mindfulness is one of the most important practices one can develop as part of their path in life. Mindfulness is simply the presence of mind or awareness of the present moment. When we are mindful we are present to our experience as it unfolds. When we are mindful we are present to outer and inner objects. Outer objects are whatever we experience through the five senses. We hear what we hear, we see what we see, we feel what we feel in our body. Inner objects are what we experience within us, that being for example our thoughts and feelings, as well as our own attentiveness and our awareness. In sitting practice, mindfulness is what notices that we have become distracted so we can refocus on our object of observation, like the breath or loving-kindness. Mindfulness brings a deeper presence to our life and therefore a deeper relationship that is meaningful and conscious. Instead of constantly being distracted and multitasking, getting caught in our thoughts, or worrying about the past or the future, we are present to the moment as it unfolds and appreciate it for what it is: the only moment we ever have. Mindfulness brings about a change not only in our relationship with what is but also a relationship with our transformative potential.
Awareness brings about the power to make a choice when there was none. In our habitual ways of being we get caught in thoughts and behaviors that don't serve us. Its like living in a dream, inattentive to our life. We have an impulse, we go with it, regardless of the consequences or the affects on ourselves and others. However, with the awareness that mindfulness brings, the power to make a choice where there was none arises and we can recognize when a thought habit doesn't serve us. We can let it go. This is the transformational moment that occurs that is fundamental to a good mindfulness practice. In normal life you're just going with the habitual current. But with mindfulness you are consciously swimming, making mindful choices. You are growing every day as your own mind becomes the canvas of your very own work of art. Mindfulness is the choice to be a conscious human being, and to live present to your experience with gratitude and self-discovery. Now, when anger arises, mindfulness is there and we chose to be tolerant instead of say or do something harsh. Now, when attachment arises, we can chose to be benevolent and let it go. This is the profound power of mindfulness. This is what allows us to begin our conscious life.
How to Cultivate Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the practice of being present to our experience in a non-judgmental way. From this we can both deepen our appreciation of the moment as well as recognize when we enter into a state of mind that does not serve us. Mindfulness is something that we begin to cultivate in small intervals, when we remember to be mindful. Later, we are more consistently mindful during the day. Finally, mindfulness becomes a part of us and we are fully present to our mind and our experience all day long.
The extent to which we remember to be mindful during the day is the extent to which mindfulness can benefit our life. It is easy to remember to be mindful when we have an alarm set throughout the day to remind us. There are many apps out there to remind us to be mindful throughout the day. One is an app called MindBell on Android or Mindfulness Bell for Iphone which is made specifically for the purpose of bringing us back to mindfulness. In it you can use a timer that will make the sound of a meditation bell at any interval of time you set it at. The default is every 15 minutes. You can also set it to work during particular hours of the day and on specific days. I recommend if you are just starting to have it remind you at least once every hour if not more. This will get you into a good flow. You can decrease or increase the interval at your leisure. Once you have integrated mindfulness into your daily life you can slowly wean yourself off the bell to just be mindful and remember the moment.
Mindfulness has a powerful transformative effect on our lives. We appreciate life more, we are more loving, more patient, and more forgiving. We let go of negative states of mind like anger, fear, frustration, pride, jealousy, and selfishness. Our relationships improve in our work, friendships, family, and romantic relationships. We are more capable of doing our work because we are more at ease and present, able to focus better and not be so cluttered or stressed. Overall, we live life happier and with a deeper and lasting sense of contentment. May you take on the practice of mindfulness to begin the profound path of self-cultivation.