Jon Kabat-Zinn describes Mindfulness as “Paying attention in a particular way; on purpose and non-judgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment to moment”. This is mind and heart training.
In many ways Mindfulness is a simple practice. This, however, does not mean it is easy.
Developing purposefulness or regulating our attention to a particular part of our experience, like the rise and fall of the breathing process, requires persistence and great patience to return to our anchor when our discursive mind pulls us into endless thinking about past and future. This present moment is all there actually is; otherwise it’s memory of the past and contemplation of the future.
Cultivating a non-judgmental attitude to the breath may not be so difficult (or it may be for some), however, cultivating this non-judgmental stance towards difficult thoughts, emotions, moods, mind-states, body sensations, memories, etc. often requires opening our heart in compassion. Learning to love simply what is requires kindness towards ourselves and the passing parade of our inner experience. Compassion is a skill that can be learned. While it may be a lesson many of us missed, Mindfulness allows new neural pathways to open up, creating potential for new patterns of behaviour and thinking.
Mindfulness training has emerged as a powerful, evidence-based tool for enhancing psychological health. It is empirically supported as an effective intervention in a wide range of clinical disorders, including chronic pain, anxiety disorders, depression, PTSD, OCD, substance abuse, and borderline personality disorder.
MINDFULNESS IS about sitting formally to cultivate non-judgmental awareness. This awareness can also be cultivated through movement practices like yoga, walking, qigong and dance, as well as our everyday activities like preparing and eating food, cleaning the house and taking a shower. The quality of our awareness can transform our daily lives into a rich, abundant and joyful existence.
The Buddha indicated that through the establishment of the clarity of Mindfulness, we can let go of grasping after past and future, overcome attachment and grief, abandon all clinging and anxiety, and awaken an unshakable freedom of heart, here and now. I’m passionate about many of us experiencing this unshakable freedom of heart.