Mindfulness, a significant element known in the teachings of Buddhism and Hinduism, that acts as a tool of wisdom that predates our modern era. But what exactly is “mindfulness”?
First of all, we need to discuss the origin and the function of the term, “mindfulness”. “Mindfulness” was derived from a term from the Pali Canon, “Sati”, an essential part of Buddhist practice, as mindfulness is also seen within the Noble Eightfold Paths, as “right mindfulness”.
Mindfulness is often associated with another term which we’re all familiar with nowadays, “meditation”. But Meditation does not only mean an act where you sit down with your legs crossed and primarily focusing on your breathing. “Meditation” is far beyond that, the term was even mentioned in Hindu and Yogi teachings since ancient times. “Meditation” was actually once called Dhyana in Sanskrit, in Chinese, it’s called “襌”, and commonly known as “Zen”. Dhyana was actually a part of the Ashtanga Yoga by Patanjali, also known as the “eight limbs of Yoga”, with Dhyana being the seventh limb.
Yes, in our modern generation, where everyone is so hasty and busy getting from one location to another, most of us would often present a lack of time as the same old excuse for the inability to do anything, besides our daily routine of working, eating and sleeping. But since when did meditation require time to practice? People often mistaken “meditation”, as a sitting breathing practice, that is simple one type of meditation. Meditation can be done in so many ways. Meditation was never a “practice”, I would prefer to call it a “state of consciousness”.
Now, let’s get back to our original topic regarding “mindfulness”. How does Mindfulness connect with Meditation? Mindfulness is simply the tool that leads to meditation, it’s the vehicle that takes you to another destination, the destination which is meditation. I would also like to call “meditation” as a form of discipline, a lifestyle, and not just merely a practice.
When was the last time you actually tasted the food while chewing it in your mouth?
When was the last time you actually felt the water droplets dripping off your face and body when you’re taking a shower?
When was the last time you just slowed down and paused, and breathe in the fresh air from the atmosphere?
I reckon you’ve rarely done any of those things. Why? Because you lack the awareness. All this time, you’ve been living your life behind a blindfold, repeating the monotonous routine, akin to a machine with a singular function. That’s not how one lives, you’re a human, you should be enjoying life, not living in misery and boredom.
With Mindfulness and Meditation, one can finally explore so many dimensions in life, one’s mind is truly opened to endless possibilities, countless paths of happiness.
Have you seen a pianist or any musical instrument player so immersed in their own performance, and they felt nothing but joy? THAT’S meditation. A dancer or an acrobatic so entranced in their movements, or an actor completely absorbed in his/her own act?
Anyone could meditate through their own passions, because they never dream of the future or imagine the past, they’re always in the moment, in the NOW. So, WHAT IF we could meditate every minute? What if we could be aware of every second of our lives? Wouldn’t we be more grateful and happy with our lives? Why are most people who’re near their deaths so content and grateful in their final moments? It’s because they’re finally conscious of every moment, finally appreciating what they have.
Now, after reading all this, you may be considering taking up meditation and trying to be mindful of everything now, aren’t you? Well, that’s a good start, as Lao Zi once quoted,
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”
But obviously, you shouldn’t hold too much expectations in your first attempt. Remember what we talked about mindfulness and meditation? STOP picturing the future, just trust the journey and progress one step at a time. One who is mindful never dreams of the future, but only exists in the present, one moment after another, in a series of moments. The past and the future are illusions, mental constructs which our feeble mind conjures from how we perceive time linearly. There’s also another quote by Rocky Balboa,
“One step at a time. One punch at a time. One round at a time.”
You don’t see boxers or fighters asking if the fight’s over yet, NOPE. They possess a single-pointed concentration in the fighting round, and a single-pointed concentration in resting in every 1 min break. It’s the same for any form of practice, whether it’s culinary, martial arts, choreography, it’s all about practice. Meditation also requires hard work, the only part that makes it unique is that it’s mental practice, not physical.
So, what’s it going to be? Are you willing to put in the work and master your mind, or would you let the mind rule you? As quoted in the Bhagavad Gita and by Gautama Buddha,
“For him who has conquered the mind, the mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, his mind will remain the greatest enemy”
-The Bhagavad Gita
“To conquer oneself is a greater task than conquering others”
Life itself in its entirety is meditation. The choice is yours, so choose wisely
And remember, one breath at a time, one session at a time, one day at a time. Start small, before trying something big.
Be mindful and happy meditating, everyone.