In The Art of Mindfulness, Thich Nhat Hanh defines mindfulness
as “the energy of attention.”
He says that it is the “miracle that
allows us to become fully alive in each moment.”
Dena Samuels, author of The Mindfulness Effect:
an unexpected path to healing, connection, & social justice, says
“mindfulness is literally slowing
down to either pay attention or to let go.
Whatever form that takes is perfect.
Whatever resonates for each person is perfect.”
The practice of mindfulness is not limited to a particular
mantra or moment, faith or format, technique, or practice.
As Jon Kabat-Zinn says,
in Full Catastrophe Living,
“[n]o one dictates to you what that path is”
or tells you follow my way.
The path to practicing
and attaining mindfulness
“manifests in as many different ways
as there are people and customs and beliefs.”
One of the paths to the practice of mindfulness
is the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
techniques developed by Kabat-Zinn,
which teach formal mindfulness practices
like breathing, sitting meditations, standing meditations,
body scans, walking meditations,
yoga, and non-formal techniques:
like eating mindfully,
or being fully present during conversations.
Kabat-Zin says that for MBSR,
mindfulness embodies non-judging, patience,
a beginner’s mind, trust,
non-striving, acceptance, and letting go.
I like the broad definition of mindfulness
that Sharon Salzberg provides
and its depth for release and openness.
She says “[m]indfulness is the practice
of paying attention in a way that creates space for insight.” In the space of the study and practice of mindfulness,
we have to be mindful not to try
to constrain what works for others.
We all enter this space from the experiences
and perspectives that bring us to this moment.
I am neither white, nor male, nor Buddhist,
nor Christian, nor Hindu, nor Muslim, nor Jew.
As a black woman who embraces the teachings of Jesus Christ,
I experience mindfulness as love,
not as an emotion but as a connection that makes us one.
That is the space that I breathe in without limitation,
where I let go and realize my oneness with all that is.
When I dance, I move without someone dictating my every move.
Instead, I go with the flow.
I feel the same way about mindfulness.
Mindfulness is about your own self-discovery,
connecting to what exists in your own awareness.
For me, that awareness is love,
which is more than safety, happiness, health, and ease,
although those are starting places.
Mindfulness is the pure breath of authenticity, the moment of experience,
the now of being without judgment.
We are the energy of love, moving beyond space, time and body
to realize that we are not here to be the mere form and shape or the letter of laws,
or rules or principles but the full embodiment of giving.
Each moment is a new beginning.
Each moment breathes a new breath.
All we have to do is take time to pay attention to it,
recognize it as it is, no more, no less.
In John 7:24, Jesus said judge not by appearances but by righteous judgment.
Righteous judgment is the moment in which we let go
and breathe the awareness of the love
that always breathes through us.
Only we can experience what each moment
breathes as us.
In this breath, mindfulness is the food of my soul,
nourishing me with the manna of every second
I slow down
and experience it.
What is mindfulness for you?