Mindfulness is a state in which you focus on living only in the present moment. It’s a state of awareness where you are aware of your every thought, every feeling, and every sense in your body.
The word ‘mindfulness’ itself is confusing sometimes, because it makes us immediately think that it has got to do something with the mind. When we hear the word ‘mindful’, we simply think it means alertness or concentration. And that makes us think that mindfulness means to be mentally alert or to act with concentration.
But that’s not what mindfulness means. The real purpose of mindfulness is to become detached with your mind and its activities, and go where even your mind can’t reach – your consciousness.
When you are mindful you don’t think and act with just your mind. Your mind itself waits for orders from your conscious self. This sense of consciousness guides every activity that you do with your body and mind.
Mindfulness is commonly used by Buddhist meditators to refer to a state in which you are consciously aware of yourself and everything around you.
Mindfulness is an English word that is used to refer to a state of meditative living as described in old Buddhist and ancient Indian texts. So for the sake of simplicity, it’s referred to as ‘mindfulness’. But while applying it in your daily life, you should think of it more as ‘conscious mindfulness’ or ‘mindfulness meditation’. That will help you get a clearer picture of what mindfulness really means.
The words by Buddha and other Indian spiritual masters were said and written in ancient Indian languages, like Pali and Sanskrit, which explain about mindfulness in detail without actually referring to some exact word.
For simplicity we refer to such meditative way of living as living with mindfulness.
It takes a lot of practice to form the habit of living with mindfulness.
But you often hear many people talk about how they live with mindfulness, when what they actually mean is that they do their work with concentration. Many beginners also confuse mindfulness with only concentrating on the current task at hand. But that’s not the perfect definition for mindfulness.
Concentration is not mindfulness.
Mindfulness is more like concentrating without actually concentrating.
That’s why Buddha used the word ‘Right concentration’. But even that may sound confusing if you take its meaning literally.
So the proper way to interpret mindfulness may be to accept it as a state in which you are completely true to yourself, and in which you live with your true nature, completely independent of your body and mind.
Now you may want to know if mindfulness is for everyone?
The answer is Yes.
Mindfulness isn’t a skill or technique that only a chosen few can learn or implement. Mindfulness is for everyone. Anyone who practices and tries to live with mindfulness can benefit from practicing it.
Also, mindfulness isn’t the goal in itself. It’s just a beginning towards understanding more about yourself, your mind, your feelings, your thoughts, and your ego.
Mindfulness is the first step towards understanding the reality of life. It helps you find your purpose in life and learn the truth about yourself.
It also helps you in living a peaceful and happy life.
Mindfulness is understanding the temporary nature of this body, and not being attached with it in anyway.
A mindful person understands the nature of everything. He understands and respects every kind of living being – whether human, animal, or plant.
Mindfulness is also closely associated with meditation. If you look at it the right way, then actually there isn’t any difference between mindfulness and meditation.
A mindful person is in the state of meditation all the time. But meditation, in the traditional sense, usually means a quiet state in which you sit still and meditate on some target object. That target object can be anything – your thought, your feelings, your breath, an image, or your consciousness.
Also, meditation is the key to develop mindfulness. It’s difficult to practice mindfulness all the time, especially when you are a beginner. That’s why you should try to meditate more often as it will help you become more mindful.
What I have experienced is that you have to meditate a lot in order to become a mindful person. Without meditation it’s very difficult to achieve the state of mindfulness. I find that practicing meditation for years is what actually helped me become more and more mindful about myself.
Now, where should you look for if you are interested in learning more about mindfulness?
I have a few suggestions on that.
If you really are interested in learning about mindfulness do read only from authoritative sources – someone who has studied and practiced it for years, not just days or months.
I say this because I have read several articles by authors who claim to live with mindfulness, but what they are doing is using the word mindfulness in place of ‘mental alertness’. By reading them I often see how little the author actually knows about mindfulness.
That’s why you should try to learn about mindfulness from genuine people and sources.
While learning about mindfulness the sources that I found most useful were books from experienced Buddhist masters. Reading several books on the teachings of Buddha helped me a lot in gaining the right understanding.
Also, you can easily find tons of free resources on mindfulness by Buddhist teachers as almost all the Buddhist teachers are kind enough to make their work available free for everyone to read and benefit. But the amount of available content might overwhelm you. So try to read and follow one book at a time.
The other source that I found useful were Indian books on spirituality which were probably told or written by respected sages, thousands of years ago.
These are the most useful means to cultivate the right thinking for mindfulness.
In future posts I will cover mindfulness in more detail, including the most common problems that you might face during practicing it. But for now, just try to implement this practice of mindfulness in your everyday life, as often as you can. Slowly, you might start finding the answers to all your questions yourself.
Thank you for reading this. If this post helps you in any way, please share it with others and help me spread the word about mindfulness.