Whenever we think of being ‘mindful’ other terms that readily flash into the mind is to be focused, to concentrate, to be alert or to be aware... The aforesaid words make the whole exercise of being mindful a little dreary. Being mindful means to willingly participating in the exercise of awareness. The key word here being “willingly” and then the whole exercise becomes an enjoyable experience.
Compassion and Mindfulness are the two main concepts on which Buddhism emphasizes a lot. Our efforts to evolve spiritually or even to become a little better human being invariably involves a lot of time, energy and focus on being mindful. However, if the exercise of awareness does not make us realize our own needs and if it does not make us sensitive to the sufferings of others, then we may end up feeling empty. We can become totally engrossed in watching our breath, but what good it is if it does not result in some compassionate act that solves some real issue; if it does not give us control over our desire to gossip and talk carelessly, improves our relationship with others by being genuinely aware of their needs and overall makes us a more joyous being.
It’s a nice thing to say that mindfulness is the sword with which we acquire wisdom - now this line does not mean anything till we can practically apply the same in real life. When we say we need to be aware of the present and be aware of our surroundings, as a beginner, we may find these statements ambiguous. Also, weall have concentrated hard when we want to write a vital mail, cook a particular dish or prepare for an exam or just drive. How is the mindfulness meditation going to be different and why we need a separate time for mindfulness practice while being aware is required all day long in all that we do.
First thing mindfulness meditation does is it gives you a clear road map as to what to be mindful of. For example, sensations of the physical body and becoming aware of your physical structure is a basic routine to be followed when we sit for mindfulness meditation.
Then we are supposed to focus on breath and be aware of it, not only be mindful of it but to breathe normally without controlling it; not to breathe deeply or slowly, but consciously. Being aware of your breath without controlling it is probably the most significant exercise in detachment.
Then comes being aware of our thoughts without analysing them, not categorising them as good or bad, positive or negative. Just being aware of our views is so overwhelming, because when you spend time with your thoughts, then you realize what all can come up from within your “holy” self. It can indeed be a humbling experience to know how big your mind can dream and how jealous it can be – both at the same time. How loving and caring you are from within and how it all gets washed away in cynicism.
And finally comes the exercise of understanding the true nature of your mind, true motivation behind our benevolent or selfish acts, our warm thoughts and indifferent behavior.
More we go deep into mindfulness meditation, more empowered we feel. For years we may have blamed others for our pain, suffering, and difficulties in life. With the practice of mindfulness meditation more and more we understand that the source of our suffering originates within us; this gives us the confidence, a ray of hope that we can reverse the situation and become better individual free of all pain. As the source of our trouble lies within, it is something we can control. The moment we take back control of our grief we feel empowered to eliminate the causes of suffering.
Setting aside specific periods for meditation gives us the capacity to be more aware in our day to day life. Difference between concentration and being mindful is that concentration can become a strained activity while being aware is part of the system, and you don’t have to plan or prepare for it. So, we can completely immerse ourselves in what we call life. Our interactions with others improve as we are more aware of their needs, our work gets completed faster as we are naturally performing better avoiding silly mistakes. Life takes a beautiful shape. So, this coming year let us commit to practice mindfulness and utilize the same to fulfil any “Sankalpa” that we may have for 2019.