Mindfulness is awareness without anything added or taken away.
Why practice mindfulness? Because it leads to a sense of deep satisfaction with your life.
Most of us are like slightly damaged wheels, we roll along well enough but there is something uneasy about the ride, and when we hit a pothole we are really thrown off course – we just don’t have the wheels for it.
We judge and we are reactive. We sort things into good and bad, helpful and unhelpful, scary and pleasant. We think quickly and without any awareness.
This has some use, it have helped us survive in the past, but we hold on to judgments long after they have been useful and we make them based on false assumptions (which come from earlier judgments).
This causes all sorts of trouble. We become stressed, or depressed. Our minds run around in circles trying to work things out, or we become dull and unresponsive.
Mindfulness can straighten the bent wheel. Mindfulness is awareness that is without judgment and sorting, it notices what is without pushing it away, or creating a story around it.
We use certain meditations to cultivate mindfulness, and then we bring it to our whole lives.
In the short term it can provide some relief and release from our thoughts, and in the long term it leads to a way of being which is responsive without being reactive, that is open handed and gently aware of others around us, and of our own reactions to the world.
We become more steady and less likely to fall over when a pot hole appears in the road.
“The purpose of meditation is personal transformation. The “you” that goes in one side is not the same as the “you” that comes out the other side. Meditation changes your character by a process of sensitization, by making you deeply aware of your own thoughts, words, and deeds… Your mind becomes still and calm. And your life smooths out.”
Bhante Henepola Gunaratana