What Mindfulness Isn’t

Meditation is not complicated. It is not about success’ or ‘failure”. Even when meditation feels difficult, you’ll have learned something valuable about the workings of the mind and thus have benefited psychologically.  Mindfulness isn’t about “fixing” you.  It isn’t about stopping your thoughts or an escape from reality.  It is the moment-to-moment awareness and practice of bringing a wandering mind back to the present moment.

 

Mindfulness is not

  • A religion
    • Thought its roots come from a particular practice in Buddhism, mindfulness practice is secular and can exist with or without the context of religious practice.
  • Sitting in an awkward posture
    • Mindfulness can be cultivated into any activity that you choose.  You don’t have to put yourself into a pretzel.  In a formal meditation practice, mindfulness invites you to sit comfortably, however you may choose.
  • Time-consuming
    • 20 minutes a day can be enough to see significant changes in the way your perceive and react to emotional triggers and may save you the time wasted by a distracted mind.
  • About emptying your mind
    • Mindfulness practice never suggests that we try to stop thinking.  Mindfulness encourages you to pay attention as thoughts arise but never to force thoughts away.
  • As easy as you might think
    • Ever try to remain completely present for more than 45 seconds? It’s tough! Try closing your eyes and noticing your breath. You will likely notice your attentioned wandered more than once in that short period of time.

For a beginner looking to get started with taking up a mindfulness practice, there is an abundance of tools, resources, and knowledge written on the topic.  Much of the mainstream excitement written to date tends to over simplify mindfulness to the point where progress and proficiency in the practice would be difficult to identify.  Thankfully, Jon Kabat-Zinn has written the book called “Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life" to cut through an ambiguity for beginners.  Chade Meng Tan, a Google engineer who is has taken a straightforward and playful approach to introducing everyday mindfulness, wrote Search Inside Yourself-An unexpected guide to achieving success, happiness, and world peace.  Beginners, experts and skeptics alike, will all find the Greater Good Berkeley database on mindfulness to a be a helpful tool for sorting through the fodder. 

 

Work Cited:

(1). “What We Still Don’t Know about Mindfulness Meditation.” Greater Good, greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_we_still_dont_know_about_mindfulness_meditation.

(2) “Definition and Three Elements of Self Compassion | Kristin Neff.” Self-Compassion,

self-compassion.org/the-three-elements-of-self-compassion-2/.(3) “History of Meditation.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 26 Oct. 2017,

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_meditation.

(4) “Vipassanā.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 16 Nov. 2017, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vipassan%C4%81.