Series-II: What is mindfulness and what is not?

In continuation with an earlier post “Series-I: What is mindfulness and what is not?” I continue this learning journey to further the understanding on Mindfulness.

When people ask me how to be continuously mindful?

In the previous blog post we saw what is mindfulness, and with it awareness. Now, we will see what it is to be mindful. If you refer the previous note, you’ll understand that it’s moment by moment awareness.

The moment when I say this, people ask me “how is it possible to be aware continuously”? Now, if you understand what really mindfulness is all about, then the very ‘thought’ about continuity in itself takes away being mindful from your life. When you ask how to be mindful continuously or even how to be mindful the very next moment, then you’re no more mindful! You’re projecting yourself into the future!

Not only amateurs ask me this question, but also lots of professionals who teach mindfulness! So this has to be carefully looked at, now the very fact you’re thinking and worrying about the next moment or how to be mindful continuously, that very moment you’re not mindful, for you’re projecting yourself into the future and by it loosing this very moment to the projection your mind has put together. So if you think about how to be mindful continuously or if someone talks to you about being mindful continuously then you’ve to be very aware of this!

As there cannot be any sort of practice to be aware, there cannot be anything continuous in the field of mindfulness… either you’re mindful or you’re not!

It is neither desirable nor possible to be aware all the time, that’s not mindfulness at all. If you’re fully focused all your energies all the time on something or the other then that’s not being mindful, that’s concentration. Concentration is exclusive, while awareness is inclusive and whether you’re concentrating or not you can be mindful of it! So there’s never the aspect of continuity in the domain of mindfulness. So don’t be misled or think it’s not for me because you “think”, you cannot be mindful all the time!

Cultivating and practising mindfulness…

Let’s look at this aspect a little deeper, very often people say I’m practicing mindfulness or one should cultivate compassion, awareness and so on… though we’ve looked at what is practicing little bit earlier, let’s first see what is practicing in general and then let’s understand practicing in terms of mindfulness.

What is practicing?

Practicing is always associated with a technique of how to master a skill. First you learn the technique, then you continue practicing it till you become better or best at it and keep with the practice so that you don’t loose touch. How well you practice, will determine your outcome. The technique is stored in your memory and you recall from memory during practice sessions and continue to master that skill. Couple of examples that we may consider like playing tennis or at the mental level concentration. Through these examples you’ll have a fair idea as to what practice is all about. The technique involved in building a skill and how practice makes you better at that skill and so on…

Now, we have to look at awareness and practice together… we have to understand whether we can practice awareness? To answer this question, one has to first understand whether awareness is a skill and if there’s any technique to do it?

Awareness is a state of being, you’ve to just be, in being means to be in the present and now, to be in the moment. To be in the moment means, to be ALIVE, ALERT and ATTENTIVE So how can you practice to be alive, alert and attentive in the future? Then does it not imply you’re not alive, alert and attentive this moment and that you are not present in the moment you practice? It implies that you are dead, not alert and not attentive this moment! So either you are aware this moment or you are not! How can a state of being be a skill and how do you practice now to be in the present and now later? Either you’re in the present and now or you’re not! If it’s to be practiced, then is it not such a paradox?

In skills, the technique, method, system and process becomes very important and all these are essentially the works and functions of the mind. If you carefully look at it, then you can be aware of your techniques, methods, systems and processes but these are not awareness. For the man, to whom practice is important, techniques and methods become critical and crucial, and as an outcome the mind is caught up in that very technique and method, that mind is dependent on the practice! So for a mind that’s caught up in practice, technique, method and so on, that mind can never know and understand what’s mindfulness and what it takes to be mindful! A mind free of its background is fully alive, alert and attentive to the very moment, to each and every moment…

So this leads us to the next aspect of mindfulness, meditation! For mindfulness is very often just associated with meditation and meditation is very often associated with technique, system, process, skill, practice and so on… so what is actually meditation and what is the role of meditation in mindfulness?

Will continue to share my understanding here… happy living!

Series-III: What is mindfulness and what is not? Will continue, watch out this space…

Mindfulness & Leadership Coach, Professional Speaker