mindfulness-Le Sentier Tranquille ... a retreat centre in the Pyrenees
Mindfulness has tended to be associated with Buddhism because of its focus on being entirely present, in a way that is similar to the practice of Buddhist approaches to meditation. But the practise of mindfulness does not pre-suppose a need to understand Buddhist psychology or be a “believer” in any sense. There is a growing body of research into the beneficial effect of the ‘brain-state’ of mindfulness on temperament, day-to-day responses and well-being. But here we are not concerned to convert or to prove, rather to explain how and why we offer to train guests in mindfulnes and meditation if they wish.
We tend to spend most of our lives a long way from being completely “in the moment”. We are usually very far from just doing what we are engaged in. Whatever we are doing, even if we are simply standing looking at a view, we are giving ourselves a running commentary on why we are there, what we think about what we’re doing, how we come to be doing it at all, and finding a myriad memories and connections floating into our thoughts. And it’s not just in our heads: if we could look at ourselves, on our face we would see a portrayal of what we are feeling and the tensions and discomforts of our life’s conditioning.
What would it be like to be without all that… to be aware only of the sensations and stimuli that are coming to us right now… pure experiencing?
Paradoxically it gets us nearer to our actual selves, because most of the clutter that goes around our heads comes from the past, and how we deal with it is set by outside and out-of-date influences, as much as by what we genuinely want. So the challenge of being really ourselves is a challenge to ‘just be’. That is mindfulness. And there can be mindfulness of looking and mindfulness of walking and mindfulness of playing the guitar… even mindfulness of doing the washing up! What is happening is that we are just being the person who is hearing, seeing, feeling, doing those things. Just. With interest and without judgement. And the relief can be astonishing.