Mindfulness is a traditional part of many spiritual and religious practices. It is primarily recognized in Buddhism and Hinduism. The practice of mindfulness is about a concentrated awareness of the mind on something outside the self. The focus can be on something or someone, as long as it is an awareness outside the body.
Awareness Beyond the Self
Typically, people practicing mindfulness will focus on an object such as a flower or perhaps pay attention to a piece of music. This mindfulness is about paying attention with your awareness to something other than yourself. As you fill your mind with what you are looking at, you develop your capacity to be externally present on something exclusive.
This feeling of presence is the undistracted ability to pay attention to a singular object. It involves the ability to ignore distractions within your mind such as trying to label it or describe it. In this state, you are simply being present with the object in front of you.
Distracted by Drifting
For example, if you wanted to be present in a conversation, you could pay attention to the other person’s breathing. They can be talking and while you are listening and paying attention, you are also watching them breathe in and out. By using the breathing pattern to focus your attention, you are able to stay present in the conversation and not drift off.
Drifting off happens when you allow yourself to be distracted, and it happens when your mind cannot be still. If you are paying attention to various things, it is impossible to be present in a situation or relationship. This is what happens in the egoic condition when we act out of habit.
Holding Your Attention
Mindfulness practices are designed to enable you to choose where to attend without distraction. It looks like meditation on the outside and on the inside, it is being present to some object. Perhaps you focus on your breathing while a myriad of thoughts and feelings continue to run through your mind. You can hold your attention on your interior experience of breath, ignoring the rest.
Mindfulness generally focuses on the goal of being present. It is about paying attention to the simple things in life that enable happiness. The basic premise of mindfulness is to recognize that happiness is not dependent on the material aspects of reality. Mindfulness is practiced as a way to find happiness in what already is, what we already have.
When someone is seeking a deeper happiness, they may establish mindfulness as a habit on their own, or they might find a spiritual guru to help guide them. They create a daily habit of practicing mindfulness techniques by paying attention to the external world without allowing themselves to be distracted. Once this is mastered, they get to experience paying attention to something on the inside, in what is called the subtle space. Through this practice, they build a capacity for presence and being in the moment with something, and they start to build an awareness of awareness.
Life in the Present
This new capacity is an awareness of what is happening to their awareness. It is about truly paying attention and the ability to pay attention to what the mind is actually attending to. It is about intense focus. This provides an opportunity to be in the moment and not be caught in the challenges of the past. It enables a person to be free from the entanglement of future scenarios and imaginings. It is an opportunity to experience what life is like in the present.
People often complain that they cannot quiet the voices in their mind and this is attributed to the inability to attend to this present moment. The mind’s voice only talks about the past and the future. It never addresses the current situation. This constant voice results from an inability to focus on the moment.
An Endless Search
With so many people practicing mindfulness, the question that arises is why are so many people still searching for mindfulness information, given that it is so simple. The truth is that mindfulness, as most people think of it, is not working. The reason people are still seeking information about mindfulness is that the simple method of mindfulness does not get people what they are truly looking for which is peace, contentment, stillness, and a capacity to be silent and present.
The Mindfulness Paradox
The real paradox is that the practice of mindfulness actually engages you in activity in your mind, instead of stilling your mind. After years of practicing mindfulness, you develop a great capacity to concentrate on something really well, but your mind can still be distracted. You can be present and have no thoughts, but as soon as you stop concentrating, your mind goes back to thoughts of the past and the future. This trains your mind to concentrate through mindfulness while you are paying attention to holding it still.
It seems sensible that if you keep practicing, eventually you will be able to permanently still the mind. The reason this does not work is because you are activating your mind with the form that you are concentrating on. Even though you can concentrate, you still have a mind filled with past and future thoughts.
From Mindfulness to Mindlessness
The solution is a 180 degree change. It is not about mindfulness. It is a complete switch to a practice of “mindlessness.” With mindlessness, the focus is on having less in mind. In essence, it is about clearing out form, images, memories, and other information from your mind.
When you clear your mind, the voice has less to talk about because there is less in there. The spaciousness of being you that is already there becomes more obvious, more available, and quieter. Mindlessness is about recognizing that you need to empty and clear your head.
Two Steps to Self Realization
The first step to achieving mindlessness is realizing that you are not the self. You must recognize that your mind is filled with thoughts and memories that are not real. Your thoughts are not who you are. From the perspective of awakening, it means recognizing the contents of the mind for what they are. The second step of this self-realization is the recognition of what is left of the being, being you. The human being that has always been there, always watching and always aware. This is the intelligent silence that runs through you, as you. It has no history and no future.
Moment 7 Mindlessness
With these two steps comes true mindlessness. While there are many esoteric practices, they do not clear the mind for its own recognition of itself. Mindlessness is built on moment seven as a pragmatic system for self-realization.