Mindfulness is being mindful of the moment you are currently in.
I am sure if you are reading this article with any interest outside of sheer boredom, you may have asked yourself this very question. The internet, social media feeds, TV ads and magazine articles are covered with images of different people being “mindful”. Why is there always a source of light somehow close behind their heads or a look of sublime peace permeating their faces? Makes you really want to have some of whatever that is, doesn’t it? Doesn’t it seem that the practices are all trying to outdo each other in every article by being ever more loquacious and thought expanding?
So what is mindfulness? Well that’s quite simple when looked at from an outside perspective. It’s a very closely guarded secret in many different disciplines while at the same time not being guarded at all. Are you ready for the secret?
Mindfulness is just that, being mindful of the moment you are currently in.
Sounds lame I know.
No pizzazz or grand arching concept to think through tends to be boring to the average American reader that has been conditioned for a short attention span in a materialistic marketplace. Oh, I am sure you’re scoffing at the thought of what I just said. However, let’s play a little mind game. Being here, in this moment sounds so very easy doesn’t it?
How about we do a little practice? Nothing is needed besides yourself and this article you are reading.
You’re here in your own mind and body. Think of your name, you are that name right? If I say your name it is descriptive of the sum total of your experience, your life, triumphs, pain and daily reality, correct? No? I didn’t think so. Your “life” is a construct made by you of likes, dislikes, experience, genes and the social structure you grew up with. Much like buildings are built using a step-by-step process into something we would recognize as a home, so have you been structured over time. Many things you do are nothing more than root responses and habits you have evolved over time in order for your brain to save precious energy. What are you then if “you” are not these things? Have you ever, truly stopped to ask yourself, what is “me” and what are these things I am doing without thought? Are they separate? To quote a famous line by Alan Watts, “Who is the thinker behind the thoughts?” Have you ever considered that none of the things you believe matter, actually do? Do they matter or are they “supposed” to matter to this image you have built of yourself?
After all of that wonderful word salad, there may now be that creeping thought, “What does this have to do with mindfulness”? Quite simple, dear reader. In the paragraph above, how many times did you check a ding on your phone or another noise? How many times did a thought come up about what you were going to do later, or why you’re still reading at this point? Now with that focus, were you actually here? That is what being mindful is-- knowing what it feels like to be in the now and what it feels like when you are not.
Mindfulness is the pause to know the difference.