It is rather unfortunate that mindfulness has become trendy. The watered-down definition that I hear most often is "awareness of the present moment". Mindfulness does indeed encompass present moment awareness. Which of course is in contrast to directing our attention to the past or future. But if present moment awareness is all there is to it, by that definition, one could say that a shoplifter is mindful. We can assume that a shoplifter does not want to be arrested and is very much aware of the present moment. However, because shop-lifting lacks integrity and morality, it would a misnomer to claim that you are a mindful shoplifter.
Mindfulness practice is much deeper than just present moment awareness. Because mindfulness has become so trendy, it seems the scope of the practice is misunderstood. While mindfulness can has many applications, such as speaking, eating or walking mindfully, we can better know if we are applying our practice if we understand three pillars of mindfulness, which are peacefulness, morality, integrity, insight and wisdom.
Mindfulness contains peacefulness and peacefulness contains mindfulness. Another reason the shoplifter is not mindful is that she is not peaceful. Avoiding arrest sounds like the antithesis to peacefulness.
There are many techniques to help establish mindfulness, but they all bring us to a place that establishes a sense of grounding and ease. That is why mindfulness practices can be found in various forms of therapy such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. For many people, the greatest sense of relief comes from the mind slowing down. Mindfulness puts brakes on the racing mind. We relax as the body and mind are reunited in the here and now.
Morality & Integrity
When the energy of mindfulness begins to get stronger, our actions, thoughts, and words are moral. We don’t hurt one other. We don’t hurt ourselves. Mindful morality and integrity cultivate self-care and propels us to use the right actions and efforts to care for our precious human body. The gentleness that organically grows from our practice propels us to take care of others that are suffering. We become generous and give of ourselves and share our resources when we feel peaceful and relaxed. Fearfulness and anxiety, on the other hand, is conducive to rigidness and tightness.
Insight & Wisdom
When mindfulness is firmly established, and the mind has settled down we begin to have insight and understanding. Mindfulness is like a mirror. It reflects the image of our true nature. We begin to understand ourselves very deeply. Subtle intentions, beliefs, and perceptions that are hidden in the deep crevices of our subconscious mind rise to the conscious mind. We can also begin to understand others with deeper insight and wisdom. Your suffering and my suffering begin to look more alike than different. We understand how what we consume, with our eyes, mouth, and ears affects our self, others and the planet. And, I begin to understand that your suffering has the same qualities as my suffering, and at the same time, your essence is the same as my essence.
I hope this blog has helped to deepen the understanding of mindfulness. It is quite profound!
If you would like to leave a comment, I would love to hear from you!
In peace, diane