Mindfulness is turning towards experience as it arises, moment by moment, with compassionate awareness.
The word ‘Mindfulness’ is translated from the Pali word ‘Sati’, which means recollection or memory. This is an ancient practice; a simple technique but a unique skill which invites us to open up to our selves, our lives, our world.
Through paying attention mindfully, over time, we may develop clear knowing and mindful wisdom, and become aware of the rise of our reactivity and tendencies to become drawn in, pulled away or absent from our own experience. Instead, we learn to retain a steadiness; a centredness. Intrinsic to Mindfulness practice is the cultivation of self compassion, for we are continually learning to focus our attention and continuing to be pulled away by our own thoughts. A gentle and patient response to these tendencies is a kinder way of dealing with the nature of the human mind than self flagellation and harshness.
Life is complex and challenging, and we may often find ourselves caught up in patterns, reactions or behaviours which are not helpful but may be a challenge or difficult for us to face up to. Our thoughts and emotions are bound up with one another and Mindfulness is a skill we can practice which will enable us to become more aware of the way we think and act. It can help us to gain more perspective and realise we have the choice to change things and the potential to respond in a way which will improve our lives and the lives of others.
The fear which is very often the driving force for anxious and unhelpful behaviours can trigger a vicious cycle in which one may easily lose sense of self, and this fear can trap and cage. It takes courage to sense into the feelings which initiate such cycles, and in giving space to these feelings we can experience more space and freedom to learn about our patterning and respond rather than react. We become more engaged with life, experiencing a greater sense of ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’.
My experience of Mindfulness and it’s transformative power is the main reason I want to share and invite others to experience a more still, clear and peaceful state of mind. I remember as a young girl in the 1980s I listened to my father talking about the nuclear threat and arms race and was left feeling terrified, vulnerable but most of all longing to help create a more peaceful world. Ambitious or naive perhaps but, here I am, years later, seeing a way in which we could all cultivate a more peaceful state within ourselves and consequently others. This sure is a world which is in need of a more peaceful, tolerant and non judgmental attitude from us all…
In Mindfulness practice, we are invited to meet our experience as it is , whether it be pleasant, unpleasant or indifferent. This can be a great leveller of experience- if there is no comparison, then experience is simply experience. It is what it is.
Many of us live in a state of constant partial attention, maybe constantly multitasking, distracted by our technology or functioning on autopilot. We divide our attention, worried we may miss something, whilst all the time we are essentially missing it all. When we pay attention Mindfully we become more focussed and engaged with the moment we are in, experiencing our lives more fully. We come to realise that our happiness or unhappiness is not dependent upon what we are faced with, but rather on the way we view and respond to it.
He says pay attention, notice.
He says keep looking, stay curious.
He says there is no end to seeing.
Look, feel, let life take you by the hand.
Let life live through you.” (Taken from ‘Hokusai Says’ by Roger Keyes)