The Heart of Mindfulness
“Mindfulness” refers to a particular kind of meditation practice, as well as a particular state of awareness. But it also refers to the skill of “keeping in mind” or remembering, and for a long time, that may be its most important meaning as we struggle to unlock its potential.
We have been given the capacity for attention, the directional viewfinder of awareness itself, and because what we are aware of shapes our reality, attention is precious. Like a compass, mindful attention can help us find our way back to ourselves in the midst of turbulence while moving into the experience of Now. We have been given attention, but almost immediately we forget! So in the beginning, and for a long time after, we need to remember to use what is given.
When we do remember to pay attention – intimately – to our inner and outer experience, we also need to learn how to fully accept and let go. The path toward becoming whole, becoming fully human, is to continually develop equanimity in the face of all we experience, the good, the bad, and the uneventful. Then we might see that our awareness is always there, in the background, like the boundless blue sky that is always there no matter the weather, if we look far enough. That awareness, when it’s related to the whole range of my human experience through mindful attention, is called presence.
When I am more present, I might be moved by perennial questions: Who am I? Why are we here? What way shall I live? When these questions are alight in us, we are empowered to set out to find our path.