What Is Mindfulness?

What is mindfulness?’ I hear you ask. Good question. When it comes to mindfulness there is understanding it, and then there’s knowing it, directly, in your own experience.

Now, you might not understand mindfulness as a concept yet, but I can guarantee you, you’ve already experienced it.

Most of the people I’ve met in this life, be it dear old friends, strangers in coffee shops or new friends on retreat, aren’t too sure what mindfulness is either, until I explain it.  And then almost instantly they realise they’ve experienced it, as a state of being, many times.

Can you remember a time when you were totally engaged in an activity? I mean utterly absorbed. You weren’t thinking about the bills or work or the things you needed to do later. Every part of your being was focused in the moment.

That was it – that was a mindful moment.

Now, imagine that moment when a child is born. For his parents their minds are stunned into silence by that very first breath and the wonder of childbirth. Yogis and dancers know mindfulness when they ‘lose themselves’ in the joyful movement of the body and artists know it when they are absorbed in the act of creation.

Think about a time when your mind was rendered speechless. Maybe you caught your breath at an exquisite sunrise or music so wondrous it sent shivers down your spine. Maybe you experienced it spontaneously when you were out in the surf, skiing down a mountain or simply alone in nature or the embrace of your lover.

When we find ourselves in these moments a deep sense of connectedness with life suddenly emerges. Everything feels alive, radiates energy and emanates sacredness.

Did you know that both ancient wisdom and modern psychology tell us that mindful moments are the happiest moments of our lives? Mindfulness is in fact the core essence of every wisdom tradition throughout history. It is the reason for every spiritual practice ever performed and more importantly it is the key to true and lasting happiness.

The Simple Secret to Mindful Living

So, you see you already know mindfulness. You probably experienced it spontaneously at various times in your life but here’s the wonderful thing – with a bit of training it is possible to enter mindfulness deliberately and at any time you choose.

Think you can’t do it? Well you can, and it’s this simple.

All you have to do is change the way you pay attention.

Voila!

That’s it.

I’m serious. It really is that simple.

By changing the way you pay attention to life you can radically transform your world from within.

So what exactly is this shift in the way we pay attention? How is it different from the normal state of mind?

Well, there are three components to mindfulness. Three ways in which our attention shifts gears. Firstly our attention is held…

1. On Purpose

Mindfulness involves the conscious and deliberate direction of our awareness. So being mindful is the opposite of being on ‘autopilot’, which for many of us is ‘the normal state of mind.’ Unfortunately when we’re on autopilot the mind is very noisy. It chatters away ceaselessly and almost constantly.

When you practice mindfulness it allows you to ‘wake up’ out of autopilot so you can hold your attention where you choose rather than being swept along by never ending and not always positive thought processes.

Another way of saying ‘on purpose’ is consciously. We are living more consciously, more awake, more fully ourselves when we pay attention in this way.

Secondly our attention is immersed…

2. In The Present Moment

If we leave it to it’s own devices our mind habitually wanders away from the present moment. It constantly gets caught up in the replaying the past and the projecting into the future. In other words, we’re very rarely fully present in the moment.

Mindful attention however is completely engaged in the present moment experience – the here and now. We let go of the tension caused by wanting things to be different, the tension of constantly wanting more and instead, accept the present moment as it is.

And third, our attention is held…

3. Non Judgementally

When practicing mindfulness we’re not aiming to control or suppress our thoughts. We simply aim to pay attention to our experiences without judging or labelling them in any way. Mindfulness then allows us to become the watcher of sense perceptions, thoughts and emotions as they arise without getting caught up in them and being swept away in their ‘current’.

Becoming the watcher in this way, we’re less likely to mechanically play out old habitual ways of thinking and living. It opens up a new freedom and choice in our lives.

Warning: When you practice mindfulness time often seems to slow down and sense perceptions are heightened. Feelings of awe, love and gratitude for the miracle of life often emerge from within. Just so you know : )

Love Melli

PS. If you want to know more about mindfulness and why it’s the source of true happiness Don’t miss this video! 

PSS. Find out how I recently used mindfulness to deal with an extremely stressful situation