Mindfulness is the practice of becoming more fully present. It has an almost unique status in our present time, with its origins in ancient Eastern meditation, and its benefits advocated by modern Western science.
What does it mean to be more present?
Leaving behind the distractions of past and future, the torments of judging, and distortions of clinging and rejecting... Mindfulness draws its peace and sustenance from simply experiencing things as they are.
When we simply experience things are they are, much of our suffering disappears. Because we no longer spend our life wishing it was other than it is, fret about what we can't change, or relive what has already gone. Instead more and more we find nourishment in the natural gifts of living consciously. Living in awareness. A peace of mind, self fulfilment and contentment which is not only dependant things outside of our Self.
All too often in the presentation of Mindfulness, the role of Kindness and Compassion are overlooked. Of course, one does not have to be kind to be Mindful. Just as one does not have to temper justice with mercy, or be benevolent in governing or loving in bringing up children. But not to be so leaves us all the poorer and the world a much harsher and more barren place.
Kindness can ease and Compassion comfort what otherwise might only be sharp, hard or painful. This is just as true when we relate to what is inside us, as when we relate to what is outside us. In fact, it is hard to be really honest with outselves if that honesty will be met by condemnation. It's hard to be brave in facing our inner demons, when we add to our suffering the pain of self chastisement. Instead compassion and kindness offer a way to wholeness and connectivity. Because, just like sunlight and water and plants, true union grows with love and acceptance.
We cannot feel alone if our heart is open. We cannot be unloved if we also love ourselves. We cannot love ourselves if we do not also love others. For what we see in another, in some way (big or small, in actuality or potential) is also in us.
The biggest mistake that we can make when contmeplating this, is to believe that we can't be like that. That we are too damaged, or simply weren't born with the capacity for it.
Kindness is an approach and Compassion is a state of mind. They can be taught. They can be learnt. They can be practised. They can be cultivated. Just as dry soil can be watered, hard earth tilled and wasteland turned into gardens, crops or pasture.
Mindfulness and Compassion is the groundwork for any meditiation or yoga practise, or indeed life itself. Below is a recording made at CityZen Meditation Studio. I have removed the group discussion, but it does contain meditation and contemplation. I hope you find it useful. If you do please donate something (if you can afford to). At least half of all monies goes raised by CityZen goes to charities/good causes. Most of the rest goes to running costs, further studies, or is converted (as if by magic) into coffee and cake!