Mindfulness is meditation when the senses are out in the world. Meditation is mindfulness when the senses are turned inward.
So many things are happening within us at every moment. We are constantly perceiving the contents of a moment and judging those contents relative to our sense of separateness.
I am sitting here. I smell cookies. Cookies are good. I am happy. I will go eat cookies.
I am waiting for the bus. It is cold and rainy. I am unhappy. I’d rather be where the bus is going to take me. The person next to me looks pathetic. This sucks.
Both of these situations contain elements of perception, division, judgement, and emotional reaction. We are using outward sensory situations and recognition to take stock of a moment and extract and experience.
This is what I mean when I say we look outward for the things we can find inwardly.
A moment is a moment, regardless of what it contains. These things we perceive will shift endlessly. The only constant in every moment is your own Presence. That doesn’t seem like much until you understand what your Presence really is.
Any beautiful and enjoyable moment is a moment in which you have let go of analysis and judgement because you have deemed that moment worthy. And in that let go you experience a peace and silence, the moment appears vivid and amazing.
Perhaps that moment is quite nice. But that vividness comes from your quality of Presence.
Mindfulness begins when you start to observe these inner workings in yourself. Perception happens in an instant and if your attention is preoccupied with thoughts of elsewhere, you will not even know that you are making these judgements as they occurring. Therefore in order to be mindful you must be exactly where you are.
Mindfulness is unrushed. Time passes so quickly that there is no need to speed it along. Sometimes attending to your slow and calm breathing will help to slow your internal rhythm.
Meditation helps to increase your mindfulness in the world because you will find it easier to be Present and entirely inwardly silent.
Ram Dass likes to say that the quieter you are, the more you can hear. And this is the essence of mindfulness. When you are still and silent, the moment presents you with many beautiful things. But more than that, your peace and contentment is entirely self-contained.
To be mindful is to be at peace. It is an inner thing that can be completely independent of external circumstances. The trick is being present for it.
You can practice mindfulness by sitting around with your eyes open, relaxing, and taking in your senses. When your mind’s attention wanders, just bring it back to right where you are. Eventually this will be very natural to you. It is only our accumulated restlessness that keeps us from abiding with the here and now.
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