a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations. It is useful as a therapeutic technique.
Mindfulness & Meditation
Mindfulness is being aware of the present moment while calmly accepting outer thoughts or feelings, but not letting these external thoughts interfere with your present focus.
Meditation is the way to Mindfulness
Here is an example to further clarify when mindfulness is lacking.
The amazing moment is right now and you attempt to stay mindful and focused, as you try and enjoy every part of what is happening. However, mindfulness completely eludes you as you start thinking about what you want for lunch. Instead of being present, within whatever amazing moment is unfolding, you cannot stop your mind from wandering off and thinking or worrying about so many things that don’t matter.
Do you need to buy some milk?
Were you rude to that person in the shop?
Did you remember to lock the living room window?
Do you have time to do the shopping before going home?
Should you call a friend so he doesn’t think you are ignoring him?
Did your work colleague mean to slight you by not inviting you to their leaving drinks?
So many insignificant thoughts intrude in your mind. This constant need to think stops you enjoying the present moment of a perfect sunset, your child’s assembly, the massage you spend all week looking forward to, the drive through the most incredible scenery or the novel you have waited months to be released.
If you are smart, you have to ask yourself:
Why is it so hard to fully enjoy the present, without the nagging worry of the past or the future?
The reason you cannot be fully present in each moment and experience mindfulness is because you cannot control your mind. Your own thoughts create disturbance and chaos with everything that you do. You are incapable of being present and enjoying each thing that you do in the day. When people first start to learn mindfulness and meditation their inability to focus on even the most mundane of things is a revelation.
This lack of being able to focus in the present moment is a clear demonstration of the work you have to do within your own psyche to stop the constant chatter of the mind – the constant pull of your thoughts to the past or to the future to the utter exclusion of the present.
“Many people are alive but don’t touch the miracle of being alive.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
However, don’t despair, through mindfulness and meditation you can succeed in achieving control of your thoughts and in that control you will find peace and tranquility. Mindfulness will enable you to focus better at work, have more control of anxiety and stress and help you to start living your life instead of just existing within a life.
As the great Buddhist Monk, Thich That Hahn, also says:
“If while washing dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not ‘washing the dishes to wash the dishes’. What’s more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes. In fact we are completely incapable of realising the miracle of life while standing at the sink. If we can’t wash the dishes, the chances are we won’t be able to drink our tea either. While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus we are sucked away into the future – and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
No matter how mundane the task, mindfulness can be experienced and, once that is achieved, you will never forget to actually live life. It’s a bit like riding a bike – once learned it is never forgotten.