The question of what is mindfulness? is a common one for people new to meditation.
I first heard the term while listening to Sam Harris who is the founder of the Waking Up meditation app.
It was peculiar for me to hear him speaking about what seemed like an identical experience to my own while completing 10-day Vipassana meditation courses.
It made more sense when I discovered that Sam himself had spent many years practicing Vipassana meditation, including some 45-day courses!
Mindful meditation is essentially what is taught in Vipassana.
So what is mindfulness?
Very simply, it is seeing things as they are and NOT how you would like them to be.
Mindful meditation involves first focusing on the breath going in and out of your nostrils. It’s noticing thoughts coming and going…
…not judging or reacting to them but, instead, bringing your attention back to your breath.
You move onto scanning the sensations in the body, part by part.
Feeling those sensations but not reacting to them.
While I recommend to anyone who can to attend at least one 10-day Vipassana course, I realize sometimes it’s not practical with daily life and responsibilities often getting in the way.
Also, some just don’t have the inclination to spend 10 hours per day for 10 days straight sitting in silence.
When you do, however, the direct experience of observing sensations in the body becomes incomprehensibly deep.
But what if you just want to dip your toe in the water?
Today I came across a fantastic website that offers a comprehensive introduction to mindful meditation, including sitting-meditation, walking-meditation, loving-kindness meditation and more.
You can find guided meditations ranging from 1 minute to 15 minutes, general meditation practices to implement into your daily life, free & paid courses, a magazine, countless articles and more.
There is quite a lot there – a newcomer could feel slightly overwhelmed. But the practice is simple. So approach your browsing of the site in the same way.
Choose one thing, jump in and give it a go for a few minutes.
For example, this article.
Then let your curiosity lead you where it may.
I hope you enjoy it and can find an answer for yourself to the question, what is mindfulness?