Mindfulness an intentional and curious directing of attention to our experience as it unfolds in the present moment, one moment following the next -- the very happening of our experience as it is happening without commentary, judgment, or storytelling. When we try to bring mindfulness into life, we also relinquish our agenda for wanting things to be a certain way. We grow more accepting of what is in any given moment, whether this moment in pleasurable or uncomfortable. By doing so, we can become adaptive, durable, and flexible -- even courageous in the face of unchangeable circumstances. We learn to regulate ourselves independent of external conditions and the ability to do this brings freedom. Acceptance is not passive resignation. When we can act to change something we act to change it. However, sometimes we cannot act, if we are stuck in traffic, sitting in an airplane on a runway, and in a hundred different life situations.
We often find our minds attending to the past (regrets, reminiscence, guilt) or the future (planning, anticipation, worry). We do this by attending to our internal stream of thoughts and dialogues or the storytelling mind. The present moment may be pleasant, exciting, empty, uncomfortable, distressing, or painful, but it is in its most basic form – an experience. We suffer as the result of labeling that experience or judging it. Our experience of something is determined by the activity of the storytelling mind, and the storytelling mind often complains, views things negatively, and wants things to be other than they are. If we can observe the present moment without judgment or labeling – with gentle curiosity – then we can live in the present moment (even a painful one) without suffering. Thus, there is a difference between pain and suffering. Suffering is an optional state added on top of discomfort, unhappiness, and disappointment, and the practice of cultivating mindfulness can make this option available to us.
Change your life through meditation. Mindfulness, known for centuries as a tonic for the mind and body, is now the subject of research showing it to be an effective treatment for stress, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, chronic pain, and coping with medical illness.
Mindfulness Practices: The Complete CD Collection
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