As you move through your day, does your mind focus on the present? Do you notice your feelings? Are your senses awake and taking in all the sights and sounds around you? Practicing mindfulness means you have chosen to be present in your life instead of fixating on the past, or thinking about what will happen in the future. If we examine our patterns of thought, they often reveal distraction, avoidance and projection. When we bring our mind and all of our senses to the present, we are able to experience every moment of life on a much happier and deeper level.
Mindfulness has become a popular concept to help us in our fast-paced, stressful world. It has the power to realign our attitudes and priorities. What is at the core of mindfulness, and how can we understand it in a way that is easy to put into practice? The study of mindfulness, and the meditative methods to achieve it, can be vast and often difficult to apply without motivation and commitment. It is my hope that this book will not just explore the subject of “mindful meditation,” but that it will inspire you to act on what you learn here. By shifting our focus on awareness, mindful meditation offers a different and more fulfilling approach to who we are and the world we live in. When faced with our challenges we can easily start to feel the need to escape the suffering. We look for distractions from our reality or seek to be transformed in a way that changes everything. Mindfulness teaches us that the answer lies in concentration and focusing on the present. It is the acceptance of what is happening in the moment. Each experience, thought, or interaction is neither “good” nor “bad.” It is all part of the continuum that flows throughout our lives. Instead of escaping from a situation or a feeling, mindfulness focuses on acceptance and sidestepping the battle we can find ourselves in if we resist being fully in the present. With its roots in early Buddhist and Hindu practices, mindfulness is a multilayered, highly useful and relevant tool for living a happier life with more peace of mind in these complex times.
We can think of meditation as the partner of mindfulness. Quieting the mind is a necessity of mindfulness. Whether meditation is set aside as a practice of stillness - invoking certain traditions and teachings - or integrated into daily life (a “walking meditation” where we approach and move through life with a meditative focus), it holds the power to change how we think and feel. Studies have shown that brain function and physical well-being can improve by adopting mindfulness. Relationships, work, parenting and the overall quality of life increase when we center our attention on the present moment. The distractions of all the multitasking expected of us, along with focusing on the past or future, create disruption and suffering. We are better equipped to make peace with the past and make decisions about the future when our minds are firmly planted in the “now.” We can share more easily when grounded in each moment, and be of service by holding a state of compassion for others in a productive, present way when living in the now.
Mindful meditation is the acknowledgment of who you are and what is happening right now. It is in clearing the mind that we can approach life with unconditional love as a state of consciousness in every moment. Every range of emotion and experience - from joy to suffering - is to be felt and accepted without judgment. If we are not mindful, we can inadvertently be living in the past, bringing hurt and/or fear to situations that have no active connection in our present reality. Positive emotions such as happiness can’t be fully felt when we are thinking that they will not last. “A mindful vision is one of gratitude for every emotion we have - light or dark. When negative emotions arise, embracing them with a mindful state better prepares us to be able to move through them and remember that life is always changing. Focusing on the smallest of moments actually gives you the most healing and loving relationship to the “big picture” of life.
When we truly pay attention we experience meditation and mindfulness. No matter what method we use to get to that point, quieting the mind is the key. From that vantage point, we shift the way we see and examine things in our lives. Our ability to think differently, with a clear view that we may not have been able to attain with all the distractions, can help us with challenges. At the heart of mindful meditation is detachment from the things in life we can’t control. When you allow all sensation and thought to flow through each moment, you are creating a welcoming, creative, and resilient environment for whatever comes your way. “Even though you can meditate by physically sitting in a quiet space away from the world, mindful meditation is living your life being present in every moment and open to what comes.