Mindfulness is something that every human being already has: the capacity for present-moment awareness directed in a focused, interested, and non-judgmental way. Mindfulness is also a practice that cultivates this way of paying attention. When we are mindful, we are intimate with the present moment, no matter what it contains: happiness, sadness, joy, anger, boredom, pleasure, or pain. When we are intimate with the present moment, we are also intimate with our lives. Once we cultivate the ability to be mindful, this connection with ourselves is something we can always access. When we are connected to whatever is happening in the body and mind in any moment, it is easier for us to relax, feel joy, and make wise decisions when challenges arise.
Our modern lives are filled with busyness. We focus on to-do lists, plans, goals, and ambitions, with the idea that these things will make us happy. We fill our lives with DOING. There’s nothing wrong with that, except that doing things is only a small part of who we are. Mindfulness practice helps us reconnect with the BEING side of human experience. The physical, mental, and emotional events that come and go moment by moment, and the awakened presence of our awareness which is always available to us but which we often forget to notice. Finding balance between being and doing is an essential fruit of mindfulness practice.
Practicing mindfulness means opening to the truth of any moment, instead of trying to change it. This means that we become intimate with the places inside us that are joyful, wise, and loving, and the places that are wounded and doubtful and afraid. Because we don’t grasp at these states or push them away, we open our hearts to our own suffering as well as the anguish of others, and to the goodness and pleasures of being alive on this earth. Mindfulness helps us feel a greater connection with the universal experience of life and with all beings.