Mindfulness Practice is learning the habit of bringing ourselves back to what is happening right now.
That doesn’t mean we can no longer think about the past or future.
But when we do so we do so mindfully, so that we’re aware that right now we’re thinking about the past or future.
And when thoughts about the past or future do take us away from our present moment experience and we find we “get lost in thought”, we try to notice this and just come back to now.
By purposefully directing our awareness away from such thoughts and towards the “anchor” or our present moment experience, we decrease their effect on our lives.
And we can instead create a space of freedom, where calmness and contentment can grow.
Having an ‘Object of Concentration’
In mindfulness practice, we consciously pay attention to an object, often called ‘the object of concentration’. This could be the body, the breath, a sound, a flame, and so on. We consciously direct our attention to this object.
We may be able to stay with the object of concentration for a few moments, maybe even a few minutes. But what we find is that at some point thought ‘comes in’.
We start thinking about something else – did we turn the cooker off, do we have enough money for lunch, what is our partner doing and so on. And we lose awareness of the object of concentration.
This is normal. This is what the mind does. It’s fine. Nothing to give ourselves a hard time about. And definitely not a reason to quit!
Returning non-judgementally, again and again
When we notice, we congratulate ourselves. After all we have made a breakthrough. We have noticed our wandering mind!
We then bring our attention back to the object of concentration.
This concentrating, recognising, congratulating, and returning to the object of concentration, is what we have called The Meditation Cycle. The Meditation Cycle outlines what mindfulness practice essentially is.
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Mindfulness Practice is not about emptying the mind. It is not about forcing some kind of result. It is simply a calm, compassionate engagement with this process. It can be done formally in meditation practice, or we can be aware of the sensations in our feet as we walk to the bus stop.
By training the mind to constantly move out of the narrative of thought, we can enter a magical space where true healing can take place.