Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Mindfulness For Beginners

From the beginners’ perspective mindfulness involves two things: (1) to maintain the presence of mind in the present moment and (2) be neutral and non-judgmental towards thoughts, feelings and perceptions [everything that arises in the mind]. Let us see the practical descriptions of mindfulness in different ways so that its meaning becomes clearer and clearer.

1. Mindfulness involves seeing things as they really are, not as one would like them to be. You just perceive without adding or subtracting anything. You try keeping it “mere observation” and “bare observation”. You train to see all thoughts or feelings without judgment or evaluation.

2. It is an impartial watchfulness without prejudice or bias. You merely perceive and take note. You don’t cling to good mental states and don’t avoid the bad states. You train not to form opinions or ideas. You don’t play favorites. You register just like a camera!

3. Mindfulness is developing present-centeredness. It is the observation of what is happening right here and right now. It is riding the ever-flowing wave of time and staying in the present moment and watching everything from there. It is staying clear of the memories of the past or ideations of the future – no ruminating, no dreaming and no imagination.

4. Mindfulness is being ever ready to observe whatever comes up in the present moment in whatever form. It also involves letting go of the present moment as it turns past. Thus, it is observing and letting go simultaneously without break (continuously). It is a wakeful experience of life, an alert but detached participation in the ongoing process of living.

5. Mindfulness is a relaxed attention in which “nothing can offend”. You are surprised by nothing and shocked by nothing. You remain neutral to everything. It is a mental ability to observe without criticism or evaluation. With this ability, you see things without preference or prejudice. You suppress nothing, promote nothing. You don’t decide or take sides. You affect nothing; and nothing affects you.

6. Applied to meditation, mindfulness points to the meaning of the Pali word ‘Sati’. It implies attention, awareness, and conscious presence of mind. It is knowing, but not thinking - you can ‘know’ that you are thinking and even watch the birth of a thought, it duration of stay and its disappearance. Of course, it needs training. During practice you will be required to catch the mind thinking. It is merely watching or observing without getting carried away by thoughts, memories, or concepts. Sati is the foundation of Vipassana (or insight) style of meditations.

7. Mindfulness means registering experiences, but not comparing them. It does not evaluate, label, or categorize them. It is not reflection or analysis. Instead, it is a direct experience of reality as it unfolds, keeping away the thinking process.

8. In mindfulness meditation you watch the universe within, paying no attention to the world outside. In meditation, you are your own laboratory. The internal universe is constantly giving you a wealth of information on the dynamics of how you relate to anything and everything. Now you have the opportunity to witness it. Thus, it is an impartial examination of the constantly changing inner world. It results in correction of your attitudes and gives you a new way of being in a detached manner – which implies experience of freedom and liberation. Your disengagement with yourself is liberation. Simple! You don't have to be a Saint or recluse to experience it - it is here and right now!!

9. As a meditator, you are both the observer and your own object of observation simultaneously. You start out as a doer who does everything habitually – whether thinking, deciding, or reacting. Mindfulness promotes you as a “watchman” who observes or as a “witness” who merely witnesses. With practice, the role of “witness” takes precedence and the “doer” becomes subordinate. You begin to react less and respond more. It is sign of a real strong personality!

10. Mindfulness weakens the egoistic attitude of “I am doing” or “I am deciding” and frees you from identification and provides space to shape a neutral behavior. It is seeing everything without reference to the concepts of 'me', 'my' or 'mine'. For instance, if there is headache, an ordinary mind would say, "I have a headache." But if trained in mindfulness, you would simply note it as some kind of sensation in the head. You are no longer carrying the burden of 'I'. This is a very important shift in the attitude. You learn to see sensations and feelings for what they are - impermanent, rather than labeling them as headache or pain. You just observe what is there without evaluation, ideation or conceptualization. You don’t play game of labels.

11. Mindfulness is like sitting beside a river and watching the water flow. You watch the flow of thoughts, feelings, ideas, and tendencies as they appear in the mind and go. It is a dynamic process of examining the flow of life, firmly established in the “here and now”. Mindfulness is all about ‘knowing’ from a safe distance. You take the mental step backward from own desires, cravings and aversions so that you can just look and say, "Oh, this is how things are and this is how I really am." It is nonegoistic alertness which identify with nothing, likes nothing and dislikes nothing. There is no 'me' in a state of pure mindfulness. As opposed to the driving seat of a ‘doer’ you settle down in the backseat as a mere ‘watcher’ or ‘knower.’

12. Mindfulness is observing the passing flow of experience moment by moment. It is observing all mental-physical phenomena taking place inside right now. It is seeing the true nature of all phenomena – arising, staying for some time, and passing away – impermanence. It is only through actual training in mindfulness you can ‘realize’ impermanence; else it remains an illusory and obscure concept – given by the Buddha and debated by intellectuals. Yes, there is a big difference between ‘knowing’ with the mind and ‘realizing’ with experience. This is exactly the same difference as you find between a preacher who only ‘preaches the words’ and a saint who actually ‘lives the preaching’!

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