What is mindfulness meditation?

Decorative image of MSAM, illustrating the role of mindfulness meditation in our treatments.

What is meditation? The Pali word for meditation is “Bhavana,” which means “to make grow” or “to develop.” What is mindfulness? Mindfulness meditation is what comes from paying attention to something in this moment, on purpose, and without judgment. Adapted from Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Audio “Mindfulness for Beginners“.

Personal Insights on Mindfulness Meditation

I’m sitting here preparing material so I can make as clear an explanation of mindfulness meditation as I can. I feel a bit stuck. I find myself wanting to safely define mindfulness rather than taking the risk of exposing myself by sharing my personal experience.

You may best understand mindfulness meditation through practice. However, if you have not established your practice, I hope that sharing some of my experiences will help you get a sense of what mindful meditation is. First and foremost, I want to tell you that my practice continues to help me with the myriad of daily difficulties in living. More and more over time, mindfulness helps me live and experience and value my life rather than just follow the unrelenting, intricate, seductive, and painful stories of my mind over and over again with no change.

If I’m honest, my mindfulness meditation practice has probably saved my life, not literally but emotionally. Maybe literally as well. I finished meditating a few minutes before I started this blog and found myself censoring and not wanting to write about the internal sense of beauty and connection I felt. My thought says, “Don’t tell them that. They will think…” The question becomes, “Do I choose to be limited by my fear or do I honestly share what I value?”

The experience of beauty and connection was a reminder to notice all that I have or, more accurately, all that is here in this life to be valued and cherished if I will allow myself to become aware of it. I did not have to do a thing to deserve it. Committing to this moment helps me see that. It might seem like I’m saying that being in the moment makes all of my troubles go away, I’m not. I’m saying that I am working to change my relationship with this moment so that I see what is actually here, beauty and pain and learn to work with both as best I can. This might be a good time for some definitions of mindfulness.

Definitions of Mindfulness

Mindfulness is,

“Paying attention on purpose in the present moment as if your life depended on it non-judgmentally.”  

Mindfulness for Beginners, Audio Jon Kabat-Zinn

“Mindfulness is about being fully aware of whatever is happening in the present moment, without filters or the lenses of judgment.”  

A Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Stahl, B., Glodstein, E.

Why Should You Meditate?

How does paying attention in the moment help? Because of how our minds work and the frantic pace of our lives, we spend a great deal of time in our own heads. For instance, worrying, planning, and rehearsing. That means that our awareness is on thinking and not necessarily experiencing. Thinking is a virtual reality that higher-form mammals possess and have used to great advantage. Mindlessly thinking on autopilot, however, can take our attention away from a pleasant event that is right before us.

For instance, when you take a shower and you are thinking about what you are going to do today, or remembering something from the past, or planning for the future, you are constructing a virtual reality in your mind. This is both a good and a bad thing

Nothing is wrong with this per se unless this kind of inattention happens most of your day, each day in the week each week in the month, on and on. You may be missing the deep pleasure of experiencing the luxury of a warm shower. It would be okay if it were just the shower, though. I know we are all so busy, but what if we are missing our lives and our children’s lives due to our habit of overthinking versus experiencing? There is a significant difference between thinking about other things while in the shower and experiencing the warm shower.

Practice Mindfulness Meditation Now

Perhaps you can do the meditation now to get an experiential sense of what mindfulness meditation is for yourself. One small caution before you start. Even seasoned practitioners of meditation are often dragged into the stream of thought. They bring themselves back to the anchor, being pleased that they noticed they were in thought.

It will be the same for you. Learn to be kind with yourself as you come back to the focus of your breath in this meditation. Just follow the instructions and stay with the sensation of your breath as best you can. Click on the play arrow below.

Thank you for beginning or furthering your mindfulness meditation with me today.

Warmest Regards.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Paul

    Informative post! I agree that being more attentive to one’s environment offers rich rewards. The years when I haven’t paid enough attention to fall’s beautiful colors and fine weather bring regrets in winter when the seasonal show is over.

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