Mindfulness: paying attention on purpose

April 11, 2012

Jon Kabat-Zinn’s definition of mindfulness:
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way;
On purpose,
in the present moment, and
nonjudgmentally.”

There are some words in the above quote that many of us have a hard time wrapping our heads around: mindfulness, paying attention, present moment, nonjudgmentally. I know I do. Put them in a sentence together and some days it sounds like a foreign language.

Thich Nhat Hanh helps us to understand the importance of practicing mindfulness. So many of us are caught up in worries about the future, regrets about the past, that the present slips past with us hardly acknowledging it let alone living it. “Mindfulness increases concentration and allows to see things more deeply and stop being victims of wrong perception.”

What about those of us who live to wallow in the past and re-live regrets over and over? What about those of us who are drawn into fantasy (wealth, house beautiful, body type, beauty, image, ego, etc)?  What if we just don’t care about mindfulness?

TNH goes further saying if our body is not united with our mind, we are not really “alive”. Our body and our mind have to be truly present, together, in order to reap the experience of Life. Mindfulness helps us become alive. Concentration develops and we learn how to see things more clearly, creating less suffering for ourselves and others.

TNH says that in practicing mindfulness “We will create less suffering for ourselves and for other people. We will begin to taste the joy of living and help others to enjoy their daily lives. We cannot force people to practice mindfulness, but if we practice and become happy, we can inspire others to practice.”

Do we have a responsibility to live up to our own potential happiness and to practice mindfulness, not only for ourselves, but  for others?

Want to start?  “Following Your Breath”, by Thich Nhat Hanh:

Breathing in, I calm my body.

Breathing out, I smile.

Dwelling in the present moment,

I know this is a wonderful moment!

Breathing in, I know I’m breathing in.

Breathing out, I know as the in-breath grows deep,

the out-breath grows slow.

Breathing in makes my calm.

Breathing out brings me ease.

With the in-breath, I smile.

With the out-breath, I release.

Breathing in, there is only the present moment.

Breathing out, it is a wonderful moment.

 

 

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