As has been mentioned in the introduction to this Eightfold Path section, "Mindfulness" is the ability to be aware of that peaceful feeling flowing from our heart chakras, as well as dwelling within this peace, while being unaffected by the anxious thoughts and hurries & worries, and selfish desires and attachments that arise in the mind. When these distractions do arise, we simply stay in this peaceful unaffected place within our heart chakra and simply observe them, without being disturbed by them. Instead, we just ignore them, without either fighting them nor "buying" into them. In other words, mindfulness means being able to stay in that soft, sweet, peaceful place of the heart, while remaining unaffected by our human thoughts and emotions, or the adversities of human life and its problems, challenges and fears. In one sense we just, "rest serene in the center of our being" whether we're meditating or going about the normal activities of our day.
Mindfulness also helps us to appreciate the "freshness of the present moment" or the "aliveness of the present", which is also occasionally referred to as the "suchness" or "thusness" of the present moment, or simply "being here now". For example, just gently being aware of a flower's beauty and the soft, pleasant feeling it brings as we admire it. Sometimes, the Buddha referred to this "freshness of the present moment" as "just seeing" or "just hearing" - where, if we're looking at something - a beautiful sunset, a flower, or whatever - don't label it, "just see it". This prevents us from getting caught up in the human intellect and the normal thinking process, and instead allows us to stay in the inner peacefulness of the present moment. In Hinduism this is sometimes referred to as being in the consciousness of the "Eternal Witness" or being in the "Eternal Present" or the concept of "Be Here Now".
Mindfulness also means being aware of how our thoughts, feelings, words & actions are continually affecting ourselves and others, so that we are only effecting ourselves and others in peaceful, benevolent ways.
Of course, this is easier to do when we stay in an ever present awareness of the peaceful energy fields within the "heart area", or simply focus on being relaxed as we go about our day in a "relaxedly way". Fortunately, there are many techniques and paths to gradually increase this awareness of blissful, inner peace, relaxation and benevolence including:
Doing some kind of "Watching the Breath Meditation".
Being aware of tensions in the body as they arise and consciously relaxing them.
Doing some kind of "Walking Meditation".
Doing some kind of Mindfulness Meditation, or other kinds of meditations.
Doing some kind of "Loving Kindness Meditation".
As well as various other "taming the mind" techniques.
I apologize that I don't yet have some of these meditations in the meditation section yet, but gradually I'll be adding them as time allows. Please click here to learn more about the various meditation techniques that are in the meditation section.
Most of these various "mindfulness type" meditation techniques involve a way of quieting the mind and maintaining tranquility by simply being aware of the thoughts, feelings, motivations & sensations as a "detached observer" as they arise and fall within oneself, so that we don't get caught up in them and give them power to disturb us. Obviously, sometimes it is going to be easier to accomplish this than other times. And of course, attaining a high quality state of ever present mindfulness is not the work of a moment, but it is something that we will be continually fine-tuning throughout our lifetime. It's also crucial to realize that the more we practice this blissful, peaceful spiritual practice, the further we quietly, gradually, gently and naturally awaken into our "Inner Buddha Nature". So it is no wonder that the Buddha taught that the correct practice of "Right Mindfulness" is essential for liberation.
In short, "Mindfulness" is simply the process of consciously intuning to the quiet inner state of "meditative awareness", whether it is in deeply focused way during our meditations, or in a more general way during our every day, work-a-day life.
In Buddhist Meditation, the gentle awareness of "Right Mindfulness" is usually combined with the more focused activity of "Right Concentration" which is the next element or aspect of The Eightfold Path. In fact, there's no real line of demarcation between elements #7 & #8 of The Eightfold Path. They blend into each other all across the board. So let's move on to "Right Concentration".
Novice Buddhist monk cleaning his food begging bowl, Thailand.
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