I’m not sure I get mindfulness. I’ve had this thought a few times before but it crossed my sleepy mind again early this morning when I was woken by the sound of my son turning over in his sleep and lay there for a moment focusing on the sounds coming from his room. He’d had a bad night earlier with severe indigestion followed by being sick. While he was unwell I was totally focused on supporting him, helping him to try and stay calm in spite of the pain and doing all I could to help him.
So the sleepy thoughts that crossed my mind this morning were wondering if that was mindfulness, being totally focused on those moments in time with my son? Or is mindfulness more like the time earlier that afternoon where my partner and myself had spent by the side of Carron Valley reservoir beside the shimmering water, listening to the birds and feeling the gentle breeze on our skin? I wasn’t thinking about mindfulness or being mindful at either of those times though. Do you need to be actively deciding to be mindful for it to be mindfulness or does it just happen if you are just in that moment?
I still don’t know. I do know that that time by the reservoir was beautiful, calming and renewing where the time with my son was draining and worrying. Both experiences were one I was very much in the moment. Were they both examples of mindfulness?
Thoughts and opinions much appreciated on this please.
PS my son is fully recovered, he did his usual bounce back after completely emptying his stomach and then sleeping.
2 thoughts on “Mindfulness?”
It is a difficult thing for the western mindset. The concept of mindfulness comes from Zen Buddhist meditation practices that are supposed to lead us to acceptance of “what is.” The practice itself is about equanimity so there is no engagement with or attachment to it being a “good” experience or “bad” experience. It is just an experience and like all things, impermanent. I recommend reading Thich Nhat Hanh. He says “Thoughts come and go like clouds across a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor”
From what little I know, it seems as though both moments were examples of what mindfulness is practised for: being immersed in the moment, without your thoughts pulling you elsewhere. I am not sure that it matters whether you have decided to be mindful; if you reach a moment where you feel you have achieved mindfulness, it still counts even if it happened by accident, or by other means.
Like all popular remedies,mindfulness seems to be experiencing a bit of a backlash right now – inevitable, I suppose, because it will never be the cure for all ills that some people seemed to be claiming. But I have found my own adapted version of it very helpful. I got caught in some very destructive thought-patterns about a year ago, and found that sitting in a wild place for a while, concentrating on the experience of being there, pulled me out of those thoughts and left me better able to manage their destructive effects. I find myself unable to practise a “pure” or more Buddhist form of mindfulness, based on sitting meditation; for me, as a druid, experience of relationship with with the world around me is the way I find that acceptance and flow.
Glad your son is better!