What Is Mindfulness?

What is mindfulness and what does it mean to you?

Mindfulness is a shift in the way we pay attention. During that subtle shift our entire world can transform from the inside out. When it comes to mindfulness there is simply “understanding “it and there is “knowing” it directly through experience.

You may not understand “mindfulness” as a concept yet, but you have already experienced it. Can you remember a time when you were totally engaged in an activity — utterly absorbed — you weren’t thinking about the bills, the people bothering you or the things you have to do later? Every part of your being was focused in the moment. Maybe you experienced it when a beautiful sunset took your breath away or felt it spontaneously when you were playing some sport, listening to some piece of music, or simply alone in nature.

Yogis and dancers know mindfulness when they lose themselves in the joyful movement of the body. Artists feel it when they are absorbed in the act of creation. We find ourselves in these moments when a deep sense of connectedness with life emerges. Everything that the eye senses is vibrant and radiates with energy and even a sense of sacredness.

Science now concurs with what the wisdom traditions have long been telling us; the key to fulfillment and true happiness lays not in the external circumstances of our lives, but in the internal — the states of our minds and the quality of consciousness.

Mindfulness is the core essence of every wisdom tradition in history. It is the reason for every spiritual practice ever performed. More importantly it is the key to true and lasting fulfillment.

There are three components to mindfulness, three ways in which our attention shifts gears. Firstly, our attention is held on purpose. Mindfulness involves the deliberate focused direction of our awareness. It is the opposite of being on autopilot. Unfortunately, for most of us, autopilot is the normal state of the mind most of the day. When the mind is on autopilot the mind is very noisy. It babbles away almost incessantly and continuously. When we practice mindfulness we allow ourselves to wake up from the dreamlike state of being on autopilot. It allows us to hold attention where we consciously choose.

The second aspect of mindfulness is that we are immersed in the present moment. If we leave our mind to its usual own devices it habitually wanders, even runs away from the present to ruminate in the past or speculate about the future. We are very rarely fully present in the moments of our lives. Mindfulness is the deliberate act of being fully engaged in the present, the here and the now in a present moment experience.

Thirdly, when practicing mindfulness our attention is held non-judgmentally. We are not aiming to control or suppress our thoughts in any way whatsoever. We are simply intent on being aware of experiences without judging, labeling, or making up stories about them in any way. Mindfulness, then, allows us to be the “watcher” of our sensory experience, thoughts and emotions as they arise without getting caught up in them or swept away by them.

When we are able to live mindfully we literally transform our world from the inside out. From that place we are able to live in harmony with our self, with others and with the world around us.

This is what mindfulness is. To practice mindfulness to its fullest you are free to contact any of the Hongaku Sanghas

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“The main cause of a happy life is within you”, The Dalai Lama.


About Sensei Mui

Sensei Mui is a Buddhist monk who took formal refuge and bhikkhu ordination as a Theravada monk in Thailand during the early 1970s. Since those days he has both studied and was ordained in multiple Mahayana lineages. Today the main focus of his practice and teaching is from the Pure Land perspective. He currently acts as the Director and Administrator for Hongaku Jodo, an educational and practice oriented organization of Buddhist teachers of Dharma, pure and simple.
This entry was posted in Buddhism, Core Teaching of the Buddha, Hongaku, Meditation, Purpose of Life, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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