Mindful awareness can be simply defined as moment-to-moment awareness. It is paying attention to our surroundings, our experience, and our reaction as each moment arrives and passes.
Out of habit, we react automatically to most stimuli. This is well-grooved, (and limited), behavior.
By practicing mindful awareness, we are learning how to “be” with what is occurring, without perpetually getting hooked into our stories.
In fact, recognizing when we have been caught is a mindful awareness practice – a mindfulness bell!
“Being”, in this moment, is as simple as taking a breath and pausing.
One of the resources of my practice is meditation. Some teachers describe meditation as a way of befriending yourself.
The practice of meditation helps us to ground, breathe, and soothe.
This stability helps us to grow the foundations of an internal “holding environment” where we learn to attune to our felt experiences.
We grow our capacity to be with difficult emotions in a more skillful way. There are many different forms of meditation and it is important to find the style or styles that are most helpful.
For example, some meditations are meant to help us relax. Others help us work with difficult feelings. Some are practices in cultivating qualities such as loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity.
Compassion is perhaps the greatest gift that can be offered to us and that we can offer to others.
Compassion has much to do with the way we respond to distress, whether the distress is felt by another or by ourselves. It shows itself in the desire to alleviate the distress. It is a balm to suffering.
We are born with an innate capacity to experience deep compassion. However, it becomes veiled as we experience the rough path of life. Loss and trauma can distance us from our compassion.
Studies involving mindfulness and compassion show that these practices can change the way we receive, process, and respond to new and old information.
Mindfulness meditation has been reported to produce positive effects on psychological well-being extending beyond the time the individual meditates.
My experience convinces me that meditation enhances conventional therapeutic approaches by helping the mind and body to relax deeply as we learn to ground and experience stability within ourselves.
Here we can begin to make contact with something more than our “narratives” – the stories we repeat to ourselves over and over.
Here we can begin to sense the innate experience of our mind/heart as it was before we draped it in armor. This is a practice!
More Thoughts On Mindful Awareness and Meditation
We hear a lot about Mindful Awareness these days.
Mindful Awareness can be defined as a non-judgmental, non-self-referential posture of caring attention.
This attention helps us orient towards well-being and stability. It helps us to recognize, with greater clarity, a moment of reactivity, particularly when that moment is distressing. In a mindfulness practice we learn to identify and name patterns such as worry, anxiety, and jealousy, to name a few.
Difficult feelings are not just cognitive experiences, they are felt in the body. They can destabilize and leave us disoriented. In a mindfulness practice we are learning to feel discomfort and remain grounded. This is a practice! We are learning to orient toward well-being.
Breath, body, heart and mind are the very ground of a meditation practice.
We take a breath. We return to the breath. We want to become as comfortable as possible with breathing. We simply begin to notice the breath.
While supporting and grounding our bodies, we learn to release burdensome, perhaps painful, tension.
Heart: noticing the qualities of the heart. How would our heart react if a dear friend came and sat down beside us and truly wanted to know how we are?
How do we nurture the qualities of care, kindness, acceptance. When we sit down and practice we want to invite some settling and ease – rest.
Our thoughts need attention as well. They can over-take us and get out of hand. So often, we become caught up in our “stories”. In meditation, we begin to notice where our thoughts are inclined. When we recognize we have become lost in our thoughts, that is a moment of clarity. Can we then invite ourselves, kindly, back to the breath, body and present moment?
We receive a breath. We give a breath. We return to the breath.