Am I Mindful of the Mindlessness?

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The Pretext

Is not the life difficult for everyone? I am not saying it! A very well-known author in mindfulness, Ronald D. Siegel begins a chapter with the title “life is difficult, for everyone.” You have everything you could aspire in life. You have divine-gifted parents, lovely friends, caring and supportive spouse, beautiful children, and a meaningful job and a career. Trust me; you find the life is not so easy. Your mind wanders and restless. Sometimes you find nothing in everything. You feel life in a vacuüm. It is no more fun. You get angry for no reason. You get non-stop worry over nothing. The world falls apart with the slightest provocation. Some way or the other you find fault with your employer, feeling jealous of your neighbors and friends, not so happy with your spouse, worried over your next promotion, and concerned about your children’s future, etc. Despite all material luxury and comfort in life, why am I not happy? Why my mind does wanders around with worry? Why my mind goes restless? What’s the fuss? It’s not a bad idea to find the culprit in genes! It might be the case that man is not evolving being happy. Probably, it’s because of the process of natural selection (3).  

You  hover around a chain of endless reason. It’s not a bad idea to find the answer in you (4). Yes, not overheard. It is the way you conditioned to life. The way you related to life (3). Are you mindful of the mindlessness? Mindfulness might ease our sufferings by providing us the moment-to-moment experience and insights about our unnecessary thoughts that created pains, worry, and anxiety, etc. (3). The mindfulness process helps us directly experiencing the thoughts as they arise and then recollecting them in experience. The recall of our moment-to-moment experience distinguishes from the experience itself, and it helps us dissolving the stimulus to resurface.

 

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Mindfulness as a Concept

 Traces of mindfulness found in Buddhism, an ancient Indian spiritual tradition. The term originates from the Buddhist concept ‘Sati’ or ‘Sattipathana’ or ‘Smriti,’ meaning thereby, recollection or remembering. Ronald D. Siegel notes that the reference to Sati or mindfulness finds in the religious tradition of Vedic scriptures on “setting to memory” (p. 942). A medical scientist, Kabat-Zinn popularized the concept and practice in Western countries. In India, it is much popular as ‘Vipassana’ (insight) meditation in modern-day Buddhism. Unlike other forms of meditation, the hallmark of mindfulness is deep awareness of the present moment.

Mindfulness is intense awareness of the present states of consciousness by being alive to the immediate experience through the thoughts. It is a practice of cultivating the habits of staying lively to the presence of thoughts that come to the mind without any manipulation. The scope of the awareness is just the present states of consciousness. It does not let the past events and the future outcomes to dwell on the present experience. The experience is non-judgmental and non-reactive [(1), (2), (3)]. It means the practitioner needs to experience the presence of thoughts as they occur by being a neutral observer.

In mindfulness experience, the person becomes the participant observer. The person remains the participant while ‘thinking’ and simultaneously ‘recollecting’ the experience  as an observer. The experience is present-to-present, and the recollection is moment-to-moment. Engaging yourself in thoughts as they begin, and experiencing them through recall without making any judgment and reaction. Thus, the mindfulness is a moment-to-moment experience of the present. The reference to the events in the past and the future and the reaction to the current event either in speech or action violate the basic tenets of mindfulness (2).

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Practicing Mindfulness

You might wander around the question as to the content, focus, and the method involving the mindfulness. The trademark of mindfulness is bare awareness or attention of your present states of consciousness [(2), (3)]. Bare awareness is not awareness of nothing; it is awareness of something (the current situation) without any preoccupation in the mind of the past and the future. According to Dr. Anthony Komaroff from Harvard Medical School, ideally you should start your focus of attention on your breathing, while you inhale and exhale your belly expands and contract. Then, widen your attention to, such as, hearing the sound or any other sensation. In case, your mind start racing, come back to your original focus on breathing. Further, expand your attention.

According to Karen Kissel Wagela, mindful awareness has three aspects:

The physical and psychological environment, breathing, and thoughts. Environment refers to the place of meditation— physical surrounding, sitting posture and the mental makeup.

Dos and Don’ts

  • Select a separate room for meditation. Enter the chamber without any preoccupation in mind. It’s ideal to sit for a few minutes in silence before you begin the meditation.
  • While sitting, Keep your spine straight. Your sole focus remain on the awareness to live in the present moment.
  • Keep your eyes somewhat open gazing at the object of meditation at the center point between your eyebrows.
  • Let your thoughts floating around. Experience the moment-to-moment. If your attention wanders away, try bringing it back to the environment.
  • It’s not a problem if your mind wanders away, its  part of your mindfulness  experience (5).
  • Your attention should focus on  breathing. Let your breath naturally flows and observe as it goes out and comes in without any interruption.
  • While breathing-in and breathing-out, your focus also remains with the environment and your thoughts along with the breath. Allow your mind to come-in and unfold fully.
  • You observe and experience the moments as they are living on. That’s your moment of truth—your experience of your present as it is.
  • While living in your thoughts you may miss your experience of breathing. As you notice it, so bring your attention back to breathing.
  • If you notice, it’s just like playing the hide-and-seek game with your attention to thoughts and breathing like the appearance and disappearance of the sun in between rains.

Practice Time

15 to 20 minutes.

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Mindfulness is about practicing being mindful of (whatever happens to you) your experience without being judgmental and reactive. It is not about finding yourself stop thinking (5). Just live with your present and you will notice that all your worries stop. That’s the beauty of  mindful practice.

Senapaty, S. (2016, March 26). “Am I mindful of the Mindlessness,”  https://saidattsenapaty.com/2016/03/26/am-i-mindful-of-the-mindlessness/

References

  1. Komaroff, A. “Does mindfulness meditation really help relieve stress and anxiety?” Retrieved on 22/03/2016 from http://www.askdoctork.com/mindfulness-meditation-really-help-relieve-anxiety-201403316226
  1. Sharaf, R. (2014). Mindfulness and Mindlessness in early Chan. Philosophy East & West, 64(4), 933-964
  2. Siegel, R.D. (2010). Life is Difficult, for everyone. Excerpt from “The mindfulness solution: Everyday practices for everyday problems.” Guilford Publications.
  3. Yogananda, P. (1946). The Autobiography of a Yogi, Chapter 26, The Science of Kriya Yoga, Self-Realization Philosophy, ISBN 0876120869.
  1. Wagela, K.K. (January 9, 2010). “How to practice mindfulness meditation,” Retrieved on 23/3/2016 from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-courage-be-present/201001/how-practice-mindfulness-meditation