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Well, the blog is called ‘Mindful’, so I guess I need to answer the question ‘what is mindulness?’

Mindfulness is many things. Not least, it is a revolution in your life, in the way you react with your own mind. The nub of mindfulness is a ‘non-judgemental, non-reactive awareness’. Let’s break that down…

Awareness

We’re talking here about awareness of your own mind, firstly. We all have some kind of mental process going on all of the time. How many of us can honestly say that we know what we’re feeling and thinking from moment to moment? How much richer our experience of the world is if we become aware of this most fundamental thing! It almost goes without saying that the more we do, the more we try to cram in to each precious moment of existence, the more difficult it will be to accomplish mindfulness. So there is an element of slowing down, of doing one thing at a time. When we read, we read. When we listen to music, we listen to music. When we walk, we walk. Not think and walk. Not think, eat, listen to music and walk, as I often find myself doing. When we do this, our experience is enhanced, and a sense of contentment prevails. It’s not unlike meditation in a way, a focus on a single object.

Another essential component of mindfulness is being in the present moment. In reality, the present is all there is. The past is with us in as much as our past actions and past conditions create the present, but we cannot interact with it. Nor can we interact with the future. If it cannot be changed, why worry about it? By staying with the present we connect more fully with our reality – again we enhance our experience.

Non-judgemental

To me this implies not judging yourself. You’re not meant to be mindful of your thoughts as an adjunct to being self-critical! (I shouldn’t be thinking that, etc.). Most of us don’t need any more help with that. Just accept what’s there. It’s you, after all. What I mean is that there is no need to be critical of what you notice. Your thoughts, like any phenomena, arise in dependence on past conditions. This means that noticing negative thoughts gives you a valuable window into the past actions that have given rise to them. I hope you can see that this provides a powerful means to prevent such thoughts in the future, and that being self-critical will simply give rise to more negative thoughts in the future. And of course at the root of that idea is the possibility of change.

Non-reactive

Pure mindfulness (of mind, anyway) should be about just noticing what’s going on in your mind. There’s no need to get caught up in it. By simply observing, we get to know ourselves better. Knowing oneself is the prelude to changing your life. In responding to our thoughts we give them fuel, in this way mindfulness is an excellent antidote to negative mental states, like anger, for example.

I’ll revisit this as time goes on and my understanding deepens.

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