Mindfulness and Meditation
“Mindfulness is what arises when you pay attention, on purpose,
in the present moment, non-judgmentally, and as if your life depended on it.
And what arises is nothing other than awareness itself.”
– Jon Kabat-Zinn
“To meditate is to discover new possibilities, to awaken the capacity that each of us has
to live more wisely, more lovingly, more compassionately, and more fully.”
– Jack Kornfield
What is mindfulness?
Simply stated: Mindfulness is awareness of what is happening in the moment, moment by moment, without judging, just accepting what is arising. It is giving full attention of the body and its sensations, and the senses. It is being fully present to emotions that arise and accepting it with a stance of acceptance and non-judgment. The same stance applies to being open to thoughts that arise and just seeing it for what it is it, happenings of the mind in the present moment, not absolute truths. Through the senses we are also mindfully aware of our environment and what is happening around us and in relationships: truly seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching.
Mindfulness is a practice, not merely a technique or a current fad that will pass away soon when another comes along. It is a way of being, and therefore emphasises our Being-mode instead of the Doing-mode.
“Mindful awareness – or mindfulness – spontaneously arises out of this Being mode when we learn to pay attention, on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment, to things as they actually are.”
– Mark William and Danny Penman (2011:35)
Mindfulness Meditation is the door through which we enter this Being-mode. Jon Kabat-Zinn, in his book Coming to our Senses, (2005) describes mindfulness as an innate quality of the mind, and one that can be refined through systematic practice. “And that is what meditation is all about … the systematic and intentional cultivation of mindful presence, and through it, of wisdom, compassion, and other qualities of mind and heart conducive to breaking free from the fetters of our own persistent blindness and delusions.” (p. 109-110)
What is meditation?
Jon Kabat-Zinn (2005) states that meditation is a way of being, not a technique. Based on mindfulness, it involves being present in the moment, which is the ground of which tranquillity arises. Rob Nairn, in his book Diamond Mind, (1998) describes mindfulness as the founding cause of both tranquillity and penetrating insight. This mindfulness practice is also called vipassana or “insight meditation” in the Buddhist traditions.
Mindfulness meditation therefore embraces any and all states of mind in awareness, without preferring one over the other. In meditation you simply stay present to what is there, holding and attitude of accepting anything that surface as OK to be with.
On the one hand meditation is a discipline that allows us to cultivate, refine and deepen capacity to dwell in the present moment awareness. It therefore requires consistent practice as one would learn to play the piano. Yet, on the other hand, meditation has no goal. If we stick to goals, we set ourselves up for failure. Meditation is therefore a resting in who you already are, resting in no space, no time, no body, no mind. Meditation is simply to be awake to what is already so. The right kind of attitude is to hold both these viewpoints together in your practice.
If you are interested in mindfulness and meditation training and group practices, kindly get in touch with me for more information.
Kabat-Zinn, Jon 2005. Coming to our Senses. Piatkus.
Kornfield, Jack 2008. Meditation for Beginners. Sounds True, Boulder Co.
Nairn, Rob 1998. Diamond Mind. Exploring Consciousness Series.
Williams, M & Penman, D 2011. Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world. Piatkus.