Mindfulness has several meanings and can be defined in many ways. Here I elaborate on mindfulness as a training that leads to a particular way of living.
Mindfulness is a practice that develops present-moment awareness. It is the practice of focusing attention and observing what is going on in the present moment, by observing our own bodies, emotions, thoughts, experiences, and life in general. Not only observing, but observing without interfering; observing without the presumption that we already know, and without hurriedly rushing to conclusions; observing with the curiosity of a child, or, as we say, with the mind of a beginner, not the mind of an expert. This manner of observing is one that allows us to discover the new in the old, the unusual in the usual, and the extraordinary in the ordinary.
Learning to focus and observe is just the beginning of the mindfulness practice. What follows focusing and observing is inquiring and reflecting as a diligent Greek philosopher from times past would. This practice of questioning and surmising has the potential to liberate us from wrong perceptions and bring us to that state of lucidity marked by clearly seeing, clearly understanding, and clearly knowing. We become better able to see beyond the veil of ignorance and delusion, and see things as they really are, see the impermanent and ever-changing nature of everything, and realize that everything that arises also passes away.
“Mindfulness is a way of training yourself to become aware of things as they really are.” ~ Bhante Henepola Gunaratana
Practice allows us to notice those times when we are being tossed around by unhealthy thoughts and emotions — when the mind is lost in desire, aversion, regret, and anguish, ruminating the past and worrying about the future — and equips us to redirect our attention to the here-now and from unwholesome thoughts to wholesome ones.
So, what follows the practice of diligent observation and reasoning is wisdom, is seeing what is wholesome and what is not; seeing cause and effect and learning what the consequences of our actions are. From realizing that thoughts are insubstantial and ephemeral; from learning that we are not our thoughts; from discerning which thoughts bring about affliction and suffering and which bring about tranquility and joy; from seeing what is really important, and distinguishing what we can from what we cannot change, we can begin to be more selective, and choose which thoughts we should give our attention to and which ones we should dismiss.
As we learn to respond mindfully instead of reacting mindlessly, or, in other words, as we learn to take time to ponder before choosing what to say and do, we become better able to create peaceful and joyful lives. In a nutshell, the practice of wise assessment, wise discernment, and wise choices leads to liberation, awakening, and enlightenment.
Living mindfully is a fresh way of living in which we engage with life fully awake, alert, attentive, aware, and appreciative. By living in such a way, the suffering that exists in the world becomes more evident, and we feel called to engage in the work of promoting justice and enhancing the quality of life for all sentient beings. Throughout this process we experience, in a very natural and organic way, the growth in us of the qualities of tolerance, acceptance, hospitality, solidarity, compassion, kindness, and generosity. We become less selfish and more selfless. We become more inclined to cooperate than to compete with others.
Living with more gratitude, ease, joy, and aliveness encapsulates what mindful living is.
Piero Falci is an author and educator who believes that the inner work that leads to personal awakening and transformation is indispensable to create a wholesome world. He is an explorer of the mysteries of life who loves to observe, reflect and write, and who not only aspires to live a life that matters, but also hopes to inspire others to do the same. He is a promoter of peace who believes in advancing the idea that Heaven is here if we want it to be. He teaches Mindfulness Meditation and Mindful Living, and the acclaimed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program as taught at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He leads mindfulness silent retreats and organizes Silent Peace Walks. He lives in Florida, USA. Join his Mindfulness Meditation and Mindfulness Living sessions at Yoga Source in Coral Springs (Sundays at 9:00 AM) and at Shiwa Yoga in Deerfield Beach (Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:30 AM)
Take a look at these books at the Peaceful Ways online store
– “Peaceful Ways – The Power of Making Your Wishes Come True”
– “Pay Attention! Be Alert! Discovering Your Route to Happiness”
– “Silent Peace Walk”