Mindfulness enriches every experience of life. For eons it
has been valued as a way to peace yet accessible primarily to those who can
devote years to mediation or contemplation.
I was first introduced to mindfulness as a spiritual
practice within the Christian mindset. There we practiced contemplation on
certain holy mysteries or aspects of the Divine. It gave me great peace,
especially as I practiced for a full year giving an hour every morning to
contemplation on the Love that is God.
But one of the great missteps of meditators and
contemplators is the artificial division we draw between the sacred and the secular. We
are at peace during our prayers and submission to a higher order, but we fall
into our normal brain chatter soon thereafter, complete with all the
attachments required to prop up a damaged ego. Our efforts fall short of
changing our “secular” life.
This is where mindfulness bridges the gap. Not only is it
unclouded by guilt, it easily translates from sitting position (or walking
attitude) to daily peace and insight.
Mindfulness is variously defined as “giving attention to the
moment with purposeful intention and without attachments or judgments.” This is
where the peaceful results come from. But there is more! The results also
include insights into one’s own makeup, one’s processes and “flaws” which then
allow us more self-understanding, compassion and gratitude. These are the
riches of mindfulness.
These riches are what keep me coming back to mindfulness
practice. Call me greedy, but I want these riches. They buy me awareness of
myself. They afford me laughter at myself. They satisfy me with appreciation
for what I am.
My most recent experiments with mindfulness have come from a
simple exercise described in the book Mindsight: The New Science of Personal
Transformation by Dr. Daniel Siegel. The popular educator and child
psychiatrist is the founder of The Mindsight Institute devoted to promoting
insight, compassion and empathy through the practice of mindfulness.
To practice mindfulness, it only requires a willingness to
break from our habitual perceptions. Dr. Siegel instructs his patients to
notice how they can shift their focus from where they are, to the edge of the
room, to something imaginary. From there we are invited to shift focus to the place
inside that is always calm, the way the bottom of the sea is calm no matter the
turbulence on the surface. When we center ourselves in the established calm, we
can even see the waves above and not become part of the movement.
Alternatively, we can focus our minds on the hub of a wheel. The spokes bring
in vibrations from the rim but the hub remains the central part of the wheel.
Parts of the rim might be family connections or sensory input or expectations
from others. If the hub tries to focus
attention on those outside influences, it can fail its role as hub. Just so, if
we think our essence is our family or our sensory input, we let go of our true
self and our hub spins out of control. By keeping our focus on the hub, we can
feel those outside influences but not become controlled by or attached to them.
It is in this space that we discover the riches of our inner
nature. The riches that are uniquely ours. We use our minds to mine these
riches. Mind-sight comes from a mind deeper than our intellects. It has no
attachments to what is seen. It has no fears of being found out by others. It
is there to understand, and by understanding to allow compassion for others,
and gratitude…for we are truly rich.
Rich Guy Miller is a writer and coffee vendor who blogs about commitment to living
fully, longevity, love and gratitude. He lives in Oceanside, CA with his wife,
stepdaughter and grandchildren. See more from Rich at Life Forever Now