Mindfulness, what is it really?
Mindfulness is such a buzz word these days. There are articles everywhere saying “if you meditate you will be happy,” or “mindfulness will bring you happiness in life.” I am not writing to sell you that. What I would like to share with you is what mindfulness is and how it relates to mediation.
Mindfulness was founded by the Buddha over 2600 years ago. In today's Western society the mindfulness most often spoken of and utilized is mindfulness in a secular manner. Mindfulness starts with a practice of meditation. Meditation Practice is what many articles talking about how mindfulness can help a person live a happier and less stressed, neglect to mention.
Meditation is how the Buddha came to his enlightenment. Mindfulness is the product, the outcome, the enlightenment of the Buddha from meditating. The Buddha became aware of the present moment, that all there is, is the present moment. The Buddha learned through sitting and listening in mediation his thoughts. The realization of his humanness and of the ebb and flow of emotions. Sitting in meditation taught the Buddha suffering and happiness is a part of being human and how to let go of not only thoughts of unhappiness but as well as the impermanence of happiness. Thankfully anyone can achieve mindfulness “enlightenment” through a practice of meditation.
Once a meditation practice is started mindfulness naturally unfolds. I can hear readers saying “I can’t meditate”, “I am no good at meditation”, “my mind does not stop.” I would like to say, no one begins a meditation practice by sitting down and being great at meditation. In fact, no one sat down and knew exactly what they were doing at first. Mediation is just like anything else; you practice and you get better at it, and you develop from it. I invite you to take 5 minutes either before you get out of bed in the morning, or before you go to sleep at night to close your eyes and follow your breath through your body. Do this for 21 days and begin noticing the difference, either in your morning or your sleep at night. After the 21 days take the practice longer. Go from there in growing a meditation practice, as mindfulness unfolds in your life. The awareness of the difference in your sleep, mood or day is, is mindfulness.
Mindfulness is not a grandiose thing. Mindfulness is fleeting moments of awareness. The understanding of what one is doing in the moment. Mindfulness is slowing down to be aware, to make different choices. Mindfulness teaches compassion for oneself and for others. Mindfulness teaches to not attach to any one thing. In the non-attachment comes the realization of not to “sweat the small stuff” and enjoy the good.
I understand the process seems all too good to be true. I am not asking you to believe anything. I am inviting you to give a practice of meditation a try and see what happens.
Charity is a meditation practitioner and teacher. Charity’s mission is to change the stigma around meditation and bring meditation and mindfulness to everyone in the least intimidating manner. Charity holds a Master’s degree in Mindfulness Studies from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. In addition, holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology and a certificate in Substance Abuse Counseling both from the University of Massachusetts, Boston.