Mindfulness meditation

The stress of high-paced life in modern society contributes to both physical and psychological ill health. While work tasks generally are less physically demanding than in the past, technological advances have caused the mental demands to increase exponentially. And not only at work. Riding the bus, driving your car, walking down the street, sitting down to eat – all day you are bombarded with information from computers, telephones, televisions, radios, newspapers, magazines, billboards, posters, and junk-mail in a never-ending stream.

The mind has an amazing capacity for dealing with all this information. Even so, there comes a time when you just have to give it some rest; to go for a walk in the forest, or go fishing, or simply go and sit on a rock by the ocean. The reality is, though, that you usually can’t just take off to the forest or the ocean whenever you need to relax the mind. This is when the practice of mindfulness meditation may be of help.

Mindfulness meditation corner stones

Mindfulness meditation has its roots in 2,500 years old Buddhist psychology. An exact definition of mindfulness meditation may not be possible to establish, since mindfulness fundamentally is a subtle, subjective, non-verbal experience. In any case, the true meaning of mindfulness cannot be fully grasped without experiential practice.
Even though mindfulness cannot be exactly defined in words, a brief and quite useful description of what it means is; “Equanimous awareness of phenomenological experience, here and now.”

Equanimity

Equanimity is the foundation that all mindfulness practice rests on. To be equanimous means remaining unperturbed, allowing, welcoming, and accepting all aspects of your experience as it is, moment by moment, regardless of what the experience is like, and what it was like in the previous moment. Equanimity therefore also means embracing change as a natural occurrence – everything in the Universe is in a constant state of change…

In mindfulness meditation we practise being still, and simply observing internal passing events (like thoughts arising and passing, or body sensations emerging and vanishing), and are thus witnessing the law of impermanence within. This kind of practice is of great importance in life, since to be able to live in a calm and peaceful state of mind, we need to develop our ability for meeting each experience with equanimity, rather than reactivity.

Phenomenology

Actual experience is phenomenological; we experience various phenomena only. Thinking, on the other hand, consists of either mental commentary about our experience, or fantasy about sometime and/or somewhere else.

Mindfulness meditation aims at disengaging from the frantic activity of the thinking mind. We practise bringing awareness back to, and remaining in contact with actual, lived experience. Thus, involvement in the activities of the thinking mind decreases, and the mind gradually begins to settle down and relax.

Here and Now

Your actual experience takes place where you are, in the present moment. Mindfulness meditation practice is about being present in the present; being fully present to your experience, as it actually is, moment by moment. Experiencing each moment in mindfulness makes all of life’s experiences richer. Even when the experience is painful in some way…

Remember; equanimity is the foundation that all mindfulness practice rests on. Therefore, when we practise mindfulness, we can still remain awake, aware and alive, even when we experience pain. Mindfulness allows us to be less reactive to all experiences – positive, negative or neutral – so that suffering decreases and well-being and harmony increase.

You can find a brief instruction for the most fundamental of all mindfulness meditations in this article: Breathing-mindfulness.

If you are interested in beginning mindfulness meditation practice, or enhancing the quality of your existing mindfulness meditation practice, go to the Integrating Awareness Meditation course info.

If you have a particular interest in mindfulness practice as a spiritual path, please, visit this page: Mindfulness meditation as spiritual practice.