Mindfulness is a “state of consciousness that results from paying attention, intentionally, to the present moment, without judging, to the experience that is unfolding moment by moment” (Kabat-Zinn, 2003).
One way of practicing mindfulness is to sustain one’s attention to one’s breathing, body, movement, and other perceptions, and to kindly bring one’s mind back to that focus whenever one’s attention is diverging from it. By practicing mindfulness, one seeks to be present to what is there, in the ‘now’ moment, whether pleasant or unpleasant. Amongst other benefits, it develops a positive attitude towards the perpetual changes in life.
With practice, comes simplicity. After 26 years of practice and 15 years of teaching meditation, I arrive at this condensed definition that, for me, covers the essence of the practice. Mindfulness is … living consciously what is.
In other words: mindfulness is a way of paying kind, compassionate and open attention, in the present moment, to ourselves, others, and the world around us. It is a particular way of relating to our experience, to what is going on inside us and around us. It is a compassionate and non-judgmental awareness, a kind of look, a kind of relating to our experience that reduces unnecessary suffering and paves the way for positive personal transformation. The difference mindfulness makes to our lives is living a life where we are harmoniously and intelligently sensing and navigating the flow of life and letting us be guided by its wisdom, instead of engaging in a constant and futile struggle against its immense force.
When you realize nothing is lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.
– Lao Tze (6th-century? 4th century? BC)
As our attention can be resistant to or distracted from staying fully aware in the here & now, I identified 8 fundamental attitudes that help the untrained mind to overcome obstacles to present moment awareness.
- openness, gentle curiosity, the beginner’s mind
- acceptance, surrender, letting go
- continuity (patience, perseverance)
- equanimity: direct perception devoid from partiality, judgment, interpretation, or evaluation
- empathy, compassion & detachment
- gratitude & detachment
- right effort
With practice, we live more and more fully in the present moment and these 8 attitudes occur more easily and spontaneously. Here below you find 4 albums with guided meditations and explanations that can support you in building or deepening your mindfulness practice.
“If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything, it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few. ” Shunryu Suzuki (May 18, 1904 – December 4, 1971)