What is ‘Mindfulness’?

“Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).” – James Baraz

Mindfulness is seen as the act of being in the present. Fully aware of your body and your surroundings. Surrendering the past and the future to their own place and accepting you cannot control either. Releasing the tension we hold over our losses and our hopes; being completely in the now.

The Buddhist term for mindfulness in Pali is “sati” which means ‘to remember’ and the Hindu word in Sanskrit is “smriti” which translates to ‘that which is remembered’. Yet most Mindfulness training and meditation focuses entirely on being in the present moment. I believe that until one acknowledges those moments from their past or perceived potentials from their future which continue to inflict themselves upon our psyche and recognizes them for what they are, it is not possible to let them go. It is through recognition that the past is the past and the future is the future, both existing outside of our scope of immediate influence, that we are able to be fully present in the now.

I love coming across quotes like…

Mindfulness meditation has been clinically proven by the top institutions in the world to be one of the most effective life-skills one can learn to reduce stress and boost an overall state of well-being in our lives. When we learn the life-skills needed to create a new relationship to the way we usually react in stressful situations, we decrease the amount of cortisol (bad stress hormone) that we release and learn how to respond more skillfully in whatever situation we find ourselves in.” (from: www.modernmeditation.ca/)

…because they bring an ancient practice into the present. It is difficult to think about wisdom that comes to us from sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE, but when you start discussing ideas like ‘clinically proven’, ‘decreased cortisol’ and ‘effective life-skills’, you know it is contemporary and backed by men and women in white lab coats.

Mindfulness is as old as time itself. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll wonder how you ever made it through your day without it!

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.”
Thích Nhất Hạnh

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