Updated: Aug 17, 2021
By Sabine Grunwald
Lately articles, posts and books about #mindfulness are popping up by the minute. Mindfulness is in the news literally everywhere. We hatch on and read and talk about mindfulness saying “I am mindful”. But what does that really mean? Are we mindful reading and talking about mindfulness? I love to browse the web and in a blink of any eye I am on the “Mind and Life” web site, listen to the latest podcast from Reggie Ray (Dharma Ocean), and absolutely need to tune in the guided meditation by Susan Piver from the Open Heart Project followed by a vivid Q&A. And of course, the latest research articles in the Mindfulness Journal are super interesting providing even more evidence that mindfulness is beneficial to enhance cognitive, emotional, bodily, and neurological functions. STOP – a voice is rushing through my mind saying something like “Damn, I am not really being mindful”. And the story blaming myself for being mindless keeps unfolding. Yeah, an academic mind trained in science likes to conceptualize and uses the left-brain to think about things like mindfulness. Now I am really trying to get to the ground of it and “think myself into being more mindful”. Geeeee, that is not really working that well because I am disconnected from my perceptions, my body and felt sense of my interior.
According to Chozen Bays (2011) “mindfulness is deliberately paying full attention to what is happening around you and within you (in your body, heart and mind) in the present moment moment. Mindfulness is #awareness without criticism or judgement”. To dissect this further, I use my senses (hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling, touching) and my mind (thinking) to stay fully with the experience – right now, what I can perceive in this moment – that’s the practice of mindfulness. I let go of judgement (e.g., “this is a brilliant idea, an unpleasant smell of French fries, or an insanely buzzing and noisy classroom”) and put the egoic voices of my constantly chattering mind to rest. I feel the aliveness and beauty of the moment, sense relief, my body releases the tenseness hold in my shoulders from sitting at my office desk, and I sense openness in this very moment. That is practice of mindfulness. This is the ‘being side’ of mindfulness that I can #practice in my daily sitting meditation or pausing and taking three deep breaths before answering the phone or walking mindfully to the next appointment. When you ask me what is more important – practice, talking or reading about mindfulness – my wholehearted answer is – all three. Only practicing mindfulness while ignoring what is known about mindfulness would be one-sided. And vice versa, only reading and talking about mindfulness without deliberately practicing it would limit myself from entering fully into the experience of the present moment which brings forth clarity, understanding and joy. I believe that to reach our highest human potential, feel alive and happy, and perform well in daily life is to strike the balance among practice, talking and reading about mindfulness. Join us to practice meditation, share mindful/mindless moments we all have experienced, and chat about mindfulness at the Plaza of Americas (Dates for upcoming mindfulness practice sessions: https://mindfulness.ufl.edu/index.php/events/).
Jan Chozen Bays (2011). How to train a wild elephant & other adventures in mindfulness. Shambhala Publ., Boston, MA.