Today, I would like to discuss with you What is The Practice of Mindfulness? Even as a child, I would practice mindfulness. But I did not know that what I was doing was called mindfulness.
All I knew was that I love practicing mindfulness. When I practice it, I get into a state of being that is calm and at peace. I become the observer of my self and all around me. My mind would have fewer and fewer thoughts other that the object of what I am focusing on.
Later in life, when I was in my 30s, I attended a meditation course. And I learned that what I have been doing is called mindfulness. It is meditation in action.
Let’s continue this discussion.
What is Awareness?
In meditation, the meaning of awareness is to simply look at something with a quiet mind. It is passive observation. Looking without any judgement, comment or interpretation.
For example, when you focus on your breath, you simply observe it. You do not make any judgement about it; such as ‘Oh, I am breathing too fast’ or ‘Oh I do not seem to breath deep enough’. Simply just be aware of the breath.
And if you have thoughts that suddenly appear in your mind, just look at them. With no judgement. Just be aware that you have thoughts.
What is Mindfulness?
When a thought appears in your mind, for a very brief moment, just a fraction of a second, you experienced mindfulness. That is a moment of pure awareness.
It is the micro moment before your cognizance or intellect intrudes. And makes judgement of that thought or object.
It is fleeting. A pure instance of mindfulness that vanishes quickly. That is overrun by thoughts and memories that arise soon after.
And it is this moment of mindfulness that you need to prolong. To lengthen the event into a state of mindfulness. For most people, it can be very difficult. But it is not an impossible task.
With practice, you can extend that micro moment of mindfulness to become fully mindful.
What Are The Four Foundations of Mindfulness?
Buddha actually talked about mindfulness. It was mentioned in the Satipatthana Sutra. In that discourse, he taught that there are four fundamental facts when practicing meditation in action. They are:
- Purpose of the Action
- Suitability of the action
- Domain of Meditation
- The True State of Reality
#1 Purpose of the Action
Every action you do or reaction you have must have a purpose. If not, then your action or reaction, or any activity you partake, becomes a mindless act. And you can feel like you have done something without any aim at all.
Sometimes, you can get distracted too. And that can move you away from your original purpose of the action.
For example, you may be working from home, and you intend to walk to your computer to start work. There is a document you must complete and send off to your boss.
Then suddenly, your cat comes along and nuzzles you. You stop and tickle the cat around the chin. The cat meows in approval. And you are so taken that you continue playing with your cat.
When you are done, you realized that some time has passed. And you missed the deadline for submission. Your boss gets upset with you. You are reprimanded. All this could have been avoided had you been mindful, and kept to your original purpose.
In mindfulness, you hold to your purpose tenaciously. You stay on track right until the action has been completed.
When you choose a task to be mindful with, it is best to consider whether the task is suitable in the ethical sense? For example, is parking along double yellow lines (illegal in Singapore), an appropriate act? Especially for one who is practicing meditation.
Another point to consider for suitability is whether you have capabilities to do the task? Is the goal too ambitious? Set aside your ego, and choose the course of action that is the right choice.
#3 Domain of Meditation
Ideally, you should be and remain in the domain of meditation when practicing mindfulness. There is a story of Buddha who gave his students each a subject to hold on to throughout the day.
Should the student happen to interact with other people at any time, they can drop the subject temporarily. And after the interaction, the student continues meditating on that subject.
The idea is to be mindful of your every moment in your daily life. As you practice and improve on your ability to be mindful, you may not even need to drop the subject matter. You can interact with people, still be mindful, and hold on to that subject.
#4 The True State of Reality
I am sure you have heard this line before – the world is an illusion. As you practice mindfulness, you will begin to see this truth.
People chase after desirable things. They think that these things are permanent and unchanging. They believe that they can help them escape from suffering.
People are also deluded into believing that our bodies and minds are permanent. They grasp the idea of ‘self’ desperately.
Within mindfulness, and with meditation, you gain wisdom that can eradicate these illusions. And the true state of reality is revealed to you.
How to Practice Mindfulness with Contemplation of the Body?
Mindfulness is best practiced with contemplating of your body. Buddha has suggested six ways to do this
I have found that breathing is one of the best ways to start practicing mindfulness. I simply be aware and mindful of my breathing. And the rising and falling of the breath from moment to moment.
The breath should be natural. The breathing should be normal. Not controlled at all.
You simply notice the pauses after each inhalation and exhalation. As your breath arise and falls, recognize this as the process of change and impermanence.
#2 BODY POSTURES
You must be mindful of your body and the world around you.
Be fully aware and mindful of your body postures. Are you sitting, standing, walking or lying down?
Be fully aware and mindful of the world your body is in contact with. What is the texture of the chair you are sitting on? Is the floor under your feet hard or soft?
Recognize at that precise moment all the details of your body posture, and the world you are in. Be mindful of the surfaces that you are in contact with. Notice the postures that you feel comfortable with. And also the ones that cause you aches and pains.
You can even notice the changing of the posture. How has it relieve any ache or pain? The relief is of suffering. Or rather the suffering that you perceive.
In truth, there is really no pain or suffering. This is because the true self does not suffer. Only the body and mind perceive its existence to be suffering.
#3 Every Activity of the Body
This is what the practice of mindfulness is all about. It is the mindful awareness of every activity of the body. From the moment you are awake to the second you fall asleep.
Be mindful of every activity of your body.From moment to moment.
As you move from one action to another, do not think of any other thoughts. Be fully concentrated on what you are doing. Let your mind be empty and silent.
For beginners, start your mindfulness practice for five minutes. Slowly increase the duration day after day. Soon enough, make it your goal to be mindful for at least half an hour. Then extend to an hour. Eventually, you may even be mindful for hours.
How to Practice Mindfulness Meditation?
There are numerous ways to practice mindfulness. And every practice is a form of meditation. And your practice can be as simple as your morning routine.
For example, when you wake up in the morning. As you become aware that you are waking, notice the bed sheets on your bed. Notice the blanket cover you, if any.
Then slowly, as you get up, notice each body part as they work together. Notice how they move together for you to get up.
Then as you walk to the bathroom, notice the floor you are walking on. Notice how your legs and feet move to get you there. And as you brush your teeth, or wash your face, notice every action.
Focus on each movement and feeling. Do it with full concentration and mindfulness.
Practice with Breath Meditation
One of the best and easiest way to start your mindfulness practice is to do the Breath Meditation. It is easy because you focus on your breath.
Here is a guided breath meditation video. Watch it once to learn how to do it. Then play it again as you practice. Use this every time you would like to practice mindfulness meditation.
There is another way to practice mindfulness. And that is with the Walking Meditation. I will be writing about this soon. And also will be producing a guided walking meditation, too.
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We have come to the end of this article about the What is The Practice of Mindfulness?, If you have any questions regarding anything mentioned here in this article, ANY at all, please feel free to ask by adding a comment in the comment box below. I will be more than happy to help.
Wishing you an awesome life filled with abundance, love and light.