Mindfulness is a particular way of paying attention to whatever our experience is in the present moment, without preference or judgment. It allows us to clearly perceive thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, sensory experiences and events as they occur, engaging our full awareness and all our senses.
Mindfulness is a natural awareness that we all have, which we can develop more deeply and helpfully in our daily lives, enabling us to live life more fully. When we practice mindfulness we are choosing to be more present in our lives. Coming back to the fullness of the present moment, we come back to ourselves. We become more in touch with what is going on in our mind, body and environment, including subtle details of changing experience inside and around us.
When we are facing stress, pain, illness or suffering, our habitual reactions often add layers of difficulty to our experiences and make things worse. The fast-paced culture in which we live can easily leave us feeling scattered, distracted and overwhelmed. Often we find ourselves swept away by the current of thoughts, feelings, worries, pressures and responsibilities of daily life, caught in “automatic pilot” and the momentum of constant activity and “doing”, with little awareness of the moments in which we live, or time for “being”. This can become a habitual way of living and the source of stress.
When we practice mindfulness, attention is no longer entangled with the past or future and we are not judging, evaluating or resisting what we experience in the present moment. Coming back to the present moment involves a simple shift of awareness which can dramatically improve the quality of our lives. Mindfulness enables an openness and non-judgmental acceptance of experience which changes our relationship with difficulty. It can help us to notice stress building, and when our minds become caught in unhelpful thought patterns. With mindfulness we can respond skilfully, with choice rather than through habitual reaction.
The path of mindfulness reveals to us that simply paying attention in each moment is a new beginning, full of possibility. Every moment offers the potential to be more wisely connected to our experience and to rediscover what is important and meaningful in our lives. This growing awareness provides us with the opportunity to see things more clearly, and with greater openness and balance. As well as making life more fulfilling, and helping us to take pleasure in the positive qualities of our lives, we can find a calm place from which to meet life’s challanges with growing strength, clarity and confidence.