Mindfulness is a term and a concept that seems to be growing in popularity daily. It seems bang up to date as an idea – and hooks right into Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Metacognition and several key concepts in Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) – yet it has its roots in Buddhism and is at least 2,500 years old. At its heart, it simply means being in the moment – being aware of oneself right now, and being aware of one’s thoughts as thoughts and not necessarily reality.
In fact it’s rather beautifully put in Wikipedia:*
“[O]ne sees that the mind is continually full of chattering with commentary or judgement. By noticing that the mind is continually making commentary, one has the ability to carefully observe those thoughts, seeing them for what they are without aversion or judgment. Those practicing mindfulness realize that “thoughts are just thoughts.” One is free to release a thought (”let it go”) when one realizes that the thought may not be concrete reality or absolute truth. Thus, one is free to observe life without getting caught in the commentary. Many “voices” or messages may speak to one within the “vocal” (discursive) mind. It is important to be aware that the messages one hears during “thinking” are simply discursive habit and that the real point of practice is distinguishing different types of experience from the context (mind) within which they occur.
“As one more closely observes mental activity, one finds that happiness (for example) is not exclusively a quality brought about by a change in outer circumstances, but rather that realizing happiness often starts with loosening and releasing attachment to thoughts, predispositions, and “scripts”; thereby releasing “automatic” reactions toward what seem to be pleasant and unpleasant situations or feelings.” Source: Wikipedia, “Mindfulness (Buddhism).”
Today, find a little time to think about what you’re doing, and think about how you’re thinking about it. Do it for just five minutes and you’ll surprise yourself by what you discover…
* By the way, don’t be put off by Wikipedia snobs, people who sneer at Wikipedia and say it’s full of mistakes and you can’t trust anything it says. For one thing, it suggests a rather naive belief on their part that there is any text anywhere that you can innocently believe and trust, as if it were purely objective. For another, it ignores the evidence: an investigation reported in the journal Nature in 2005 suggested that for scientific articles Wikipedia came close to the level of accuracy in Encyclopædia Britannica and had a similar rate of “serious errors”.