“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it. ”
Thích Nhất Hạnh
Mindfulness is one of those fashionable terms that you see getting used just about everywhere, but what exactly does it mean?
According to Daniel J. Siegel, Director of the Mindsight Institute, mindfulness in its most general sense is about waking up from a life on automatic, and being sensitive to novelty in our everyday experiences. With mindful awareness the flow of energy and information that is our mind enters our conscious attention and we can both appreciate its contents and come to regulate its flow in a new way. Mindful awareness involves more than just simply being aware: It involves being aware of aspects of the mind itself. Instead of being on automatic and mindless, mindfulness helps us awaken, and by reflecting on the mind we are enabled to make choices and thus change becomes possible.
There are basic factors that tend to boost mindfulness:
Off automatic pilot. Focusing on the present reboots your mind so you can respond thoughtfully rather than automatically. Instead of lashing out in anger, backing down in fear, or mindlessly indulging a passing craving, you get the opportunity to say to yourself, ‘This is the emotion I’m feeling. How should I respond?’
Not reacting to inner experience. Mindfulness boosts your awareness of how you interpret and react to what is happening in your mind.
Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When we are mindful, we observe our thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting our life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.
Mindful people are happier, more enthusiastic, more empathetic, and more secure. They have higher self-esteem and are more accepting of their own weaknesses.
You can become mindful at any moment just by paying attention to your immediate experience. You can do it right now. What’s happening this instant? Think of yourself as an eternal witness, and just observe the moment. What do you see, hear, smell? It doesn’t matter how it feels -pleasant or unpleasant, good or bad – you go with it because it is what’s present; you are not judging it. And if you notice your mind wandering, bring yourself back. Just say to yourself, ‘Now. Now. Now.’
“The awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment.”
Jon Kabat Zinn