Mindfulness has become quite popular — it’s been great to see it trending through our culture today. Anything that increases awareness and makes people more present, and fully conscious in their bodies, is positive.
I’ve been interested in mindfulness for a very long time but only through my interest in meditation.
For me, meditation comes first, and if you’re truly interested in figuring out this mindfulness thing, then I encourage you to focus on building a daily practice of meditation as your foundation.
You see, I may be skeptical, or arrogant — and I’m probably both — but I doubt that most people who profess to be working on “mindfulness” are actually mindful.
Real mindfulness is about going within. It’s about STOPPING. It’s about being fully conscious and present in the NOW.
Eckhart Tolle did wonders in bringing this conversation into the public domain and if you haven’t read The Power of Now, or if you haven’t re-read it recently, then that’s a great place to start.
Many spiritual teachers don’t even emphasize meditation per se. Gangaji, for example, emphasizes that more practices and more techniques are not necessary. All of that is true.
And yet for me, perhaps because I’m still very new to all this even after 25+ years :-), I find that daily meditation is the only way for me to break through the clutter in my mind and the noise of the world and find the TRUTH on the inside.
Without regular meditation, then I may think I’m being mindful as I go through my day, but really I’m mostly just thinking.
Meditation slowly scrubs away the unnecessary surface layers and allows the gold to shine through.
When I’m out and about, or sitting at my desk on the computer, or playing with the dog, or whatever, then unless I’ve been cultivating this meditation practice on the daily, I might have a thought about mindfulness — “Oh yeah I’m supposed to be being mindful” — but it stays at the level of thought.
The regular practice of meditation strengthens the mind to allow it to be present more often, so that a rememberance of, “Oh yeah, mindfulness!” is met with, “THIS.”
It’s kind of hard to explain. But meditation allows mindfulness to happen more easily.
The other key aspect to all of this is that without meditation, which involves a falling away of appearances so that only the jewel remains shining brightly, then I would have never had any sense of what real mindfulness is. I would’ve always been operating in the field of thoughts and impressions, flailing blindly around not ever even understanding what the opportunity for being fully present could be.
It’s like trying to do math when I’ve never know what numbers are or how they work.
Once I had enough core-revealing experiences in meditation, then I started to know what Truth was about (or at least, I have a memory of having experienced it once; this is a tricky topic and one I may write about more!). Then, it was like a map was revealed, and the MINDFULNESS! button clicked on in a way it never could have before.
Perhaps another way to look at it is, say you grew up in a place that had no puppies. No dogs, not even cats and kittens or other small animals.
And you met someone who told you, “OMG DOGS!” They couldn’t stop gushing about how much they loved theirs. They went on and on about the awesomeness of pets.
You just smiled and nodded, being polite, but you had no concept.
And then one day, you were given a puppy, a wiggling little mass of adorable.
It wasn’t till then, when you held it in your hands, did the synapses connect and your mind light up with the Truth. PUPPY!!
It’s kind of that way with mindfulness. You need meditation to help you know what mindfulness IS. And then you’ll become way better at your attempts to be mindful on the daily.
Meditation. Start there.