Wherever you go, there you are.
worry about the future, or anticipate troubles,
but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.
Let's begin with Webster's Dictionary, which defines mindfulness as "the trait of staying aware (paying close attention to) your responsibilities and/or being present in the moment." Not a bad start ... for a dictionary definition.
Now, let's consider the views of some leading contemporary Theravāda Buddhist authorities. Nyanaponika Thera defines, or perhaps more accurately describes, Mindfulness as “a kind of attentiveness that … is good, skilful or right (kusala)”. According to Bhikkhu Bodhi Mindfulness is “focused awareness applied to immediate experience in both its subjective and objective factors”. Thānissaro Bhikkhu sees Mindfulness as “the ability to keep something in mind”. Finally, in the words of Ñāṇavīra Thera Mindfulness is “general recollectedness, not being scatterbrained,” and he links it with “reflexion”, that is, knowing what one knows or does as one knows or does it.
J. Krishnamurti used to point out that Mindfulness is a lifelong inquiry into what it means to be present, and to stay present, in the present moment ... with choiceless awareness and bare attention ... and with curiosity (but not credulity). Krishnamurti said, "Learning is movement from moment to moment."
I also love the simplicity of Jon Kabat-Zinn's definition, or rather description, of Mindfulness: "Paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally." ("Falling awake," he calls it!) Ditto, from Ruth Lerman: "Mindfulness is paying attention, on purpose, to what’s happening in the present moment without judgment."
Mindfulness is the direct perception of "what is". It is not so much a "system" per se ... thank goodness ... but, in the words of Jack Kornfield, it is "a systematic training and awakening of body, heart, and mind that is integrated with the world around us". Thich Nhat Hanh writes that to live mindfully is "to keep our appointment with life". Great stuff!
One of the best books - if not the best book - ever written on the subject of meditation is The Heart of Buddhist Meditation by the above mentioned Nyanaponika Thera. In the introduction to the book the author states what I also have found to be true in practice, namely that Mindfulness "provides the most simple and direct, the most thorough and effective, method for training and developing the mind for its daily tasks and problems".
The Nature of Mindfulness and Mindfulness Meditation
“You cannot buy Mindfulness in a grocery store, it must be generated from within yourself.” - Thich Nhat Hahn.
"Why should we observe or watch physical and mental processes as they are? Because we want to realise their true nature. The teaching of the Buddha leads us to the right understanding of natural processes as just natural process. ... When our body feels hot, we should observe that feeling of heat as it is. When the body feels cold, we should observe it as cold. When we feel pain, we should observe it as it is - pain. When we feel happy, we should watch that happiness as it is - as happiness. When we feel angry, we should observe that anger as it really is - as anger. When we feel sorry, we should be mindful of it as it is - as sorry. When we feel sad or disappointed, then we must be aware of our emotional state of sadness or disappointment as it is." - Sayadaw U Janakabhivamsa.
“Mindfulness is deliberately paying full attention to what is happening around you—in your body, heart and mind. Mindfulness is awareness without criticism or judgment.” - Jan Chozen Bays.
“Mindfulness is about falling awake rather than asleep. Relaxation is more of a side effect. Mindfulness is about being in the present, taking things one moment at a time and being aware of whatever arises – not creating a pleasant experience.” - Shamash Alidina.
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally … When we commit ourselves to paying attention in an open way, without falling prey to our own likes and dislikes, opinions and prejudices, projections and expectations, new possibilities open up and we have a chance to free ourselves from the straitjacket of unconsciousness.” - Jon Kabat-Zinn.
"Mindfulness is a state in which one is open to creating categories, open to new information, and being aware of more than one perspective. Mindlessness is being prematurely bound to a perspective when in a particular situation and then acting from that particular mindest." - Ellen Langer.
"The quiter you become, the more you are able to hear." - Baba Ram Dass.
"Awareness in itself is healing." - Fritz Pearls.
The “Process” and Practice of Mindfulness
"Remember one thing: meditation means awareness. Whatsoever you do with awareness is meditation. Action is not the question, but the quality that you bring to your action. Walking can be a meditation if you walk alertly. Sitting can be a meditation if you listen with awareness. Just listening to the inner noise of your mind can be a meditation if you remain alert and watchful." - Osho.
"Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom." - Shakyamuni Buddha.
"Meditation does not imply only the development of single-pointed concentration, sitting in some corner doing nothing. Meditation is an alert state of mind, the opposite of sluggishness; meditation is wisdom. You should remain aware every moment of your daily life, fully conscious of what you are doing and how you are doing it." - Lama Yeshe.
"You are not analysing, criticizing, judging ... you are listening, are you not? Your mind is in a state where the thought process is not active, but is very alert. Yes? And that alertness is not of time, is it? You are merely being alert, passively receptive, and yet fully aware; and it is only in this state that there is understanding. Surely, when the mind is agitated, questioning, worrying, dissecting, analysing, there is no understanding. And when there is the intensity to understand, the mind is obviously tranquil." - J. Krishnamurti.
"Be here now." - Ram Dass.
"To be awake is to be alive." - Henry David Thoreau.
"Regard the body as body." - Shakyamuni Buddha.
"When the mind wanders, observe it as it is." - Shakyamuni Buddha.
"When you meditate, sit with the dignity of a king or queen; when you move through your day, remain centred in this dignity." - Buddhist Meditation Master.
"Sit still, be silent, let composure creep over you." - Norman Vincent Peale.
"An upright posture and a few relaxed breaths can make a great difference." - Buddhist Meditation Master.
"To awaken, sit calmly, letting each breath clear your mind and open your heart." - Buddhist Meditation Master.
"It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question." - Eugène Ionesco.
"In the acknowledgement of what is there is the cessation of all conflict." - J. Krishnamurti.
"When we are engaged in the mindfulness of our body-mind process, we need not choose any mental or physical process as the object of our meditation for if we do this, it means that we are attached to the object of meditation. When we meditate on the body-mind process, the 'noting mind' or 'observing mind' will choose the object itself." - Sayadaw U Janakabhivamsa.
"There is no mental or physical process that should not be observed or that we should not be mindful of as it is. Each and every mental or physical process or phenomenon must be observed, watched as it is." - Sayadaw U Janakabhivamsa.
“Observe the space between your thoughts, then observe the observer.” - Hamilton Boudreaux.
"Awareness is not the result of anything. There is nothing that causes it. There is nothing we can do to create it." - Steven Harrison.
"Looking upon leads to awareness. Awareness leads to action." -Talmud, Menachot 43b.
"To observe what is the mind must be free of all comparison, of the ideal, of the opposite. Then you will see what actually is is far more important than what should be." - J. Krishnamurti.
"Thinking is just like not thinking. So I don't have to think anymore." - Jack Kerouac
“... this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.” - Saint Paul (Philippians 3:13).
"Enlightenment is the result of the daily practice of mindfulness." - Shinjo Ito.
"Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor." - Thich Nhat Hanh.
"Feelings, whether of compassion or irritation, should be welcomed, recognized, and treated on an absolutely equal basis; because both are ourselves. The tangerine I am eating is me. The mustard greens I am planting are me. I plant with all my heart and mind. I clean this teapot with the kind of attention I would have were I giving the baby Buddha or Jesus a bath. Nothing should be treated more carefully than anything else. In mindfulness, compassion, irritation, mustard green plant, and teapot are all sacred." - Thich Nhat Hanh.
"The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it." - Thich Nhat Hanh.
"Stop resisting your problems so furiously in your mind. Stop struggling to solve them. If you do that, a great sense of peace followed by a great sense of power will come to you." - Norman Vincent Peale.
"Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet." - Thich Nhat Hanh.
"When even one virtue becomes our nature, the mind becomes clean and tranquil. Then there is no need to practice meditation; we will automatically be meditating always." - Sri S. Satchidananda.
". . . I feel we don’t really need scriptures. The entire life is an open book, a scripture. Read it. Learn while digging a pit or chopping some wood or cooking some food. If you can’t learn from your daily activities, how are you going to understand the scriptures?" - Sri S. Satchidananda.
"Each place is the right place--the place where I now am can be a sacred space.” - Ravi Ravindra.
"As we encounter new experiences with a mindful and wise attention, we discover that one of three things will happen to our new experience: it will go away, it will stay the same, or it will get more intense. Whatever happens does not really matter." - Jack Kornfield.
"A bird cried jubilation. In that moment they lived long. All minor motions were stilled and only the great ones were perceived. Beneath them the earth turned, singing." - Sheri S. Tepper.
"We too should make ourselves empty, that the great soul of the universe may fill us with its breath." - Lawrence Binyon.
“Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by dragging day, in all the small uncaring ways.” - Stephen Vincent Benet.
“Two thoughts cannot coexist at the same time: if the clear light of mindfulness is present, there is no room for mental twilight.” - Nyanaponika Thera.
"Do not waste a single moment.' This is my principle. Therefore, my daily life is extremely busy. However, that is how I feel joy." - Kyoshu Sama.
"Cherish that which is within you." - Chuang-tzu.
"There is only one time when it is essential to awaken. That time is now." - Shakyamuni Buddha.
“One person's awakening will enlighten countless others.” - Shinjo Ito.
"Mindfulness of the body leads to nirvana." - Shakyamuni Buddha.
"This [Mindfulness] is the direct path for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation, for the disappearing of pain and grief, for the attainment of the Way, for the realization of nirvana." - Shakyamuni Buddha.
“Intelligence is the capacity to be in the present. The more you are in the past or are in the future, the less intelligent you are. Intelligence is the capacity to be here-now, to be in this moment and nowhere else. Then you are awake.” - Osho.
"The ending of sorrow is the understanding of the fact from moment to moment." - J. Krishnamurti.
"Truth is more in the process than in the result." - J. Krishnamurti.
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