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What does it mean?

Mindfulness is something that we all do at different times of the day. However it is often a fleeting and short lived experience which we may not notice at all. It is a type of awareness that is a pure awareness. That means it is an awareness that just observes. It makes no judgements or distinctions. It is an awareness that is an intentional, non reactive, clear awareness which is directed towards immediate experience. Words fail to fully describe mindfulness because it is an experience. Words do it no justice. These words are a feeble attempt to give you some understanding of the concept but it is not until you have practiced it and experienced it that you will grasp its meaning. One popular definition of it is:

"Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgementally."(Kabat-Zinn, 1994).

Mindfulness is not unemotional as some presentations of it would have you believe. Quite the opposite. Mindfulness demands a complete experience of the present moment without the influence of our typical escape or avoidance patterns. When you are sad or angry, you fully experience these as you will your joys. Your awareness and willingness to fully experience your internal and external world will free you from inefficient and destructive habitual avoidance patterns allowing you to fully experience the rich and natural flowing tapestry of your life.

Mindfulness will allow you to perceive things deeply and with clarity. It will not exclude you from the natural events of pain and the pitfalls of life. It will however, free you from the pain and pitfalls that you create through mindless misadventure. It will allow you to transcend the cultural and family of origin derived defense mechanisms that have repeatedly create the pitfalls or set you up for pain. Mindfulness is the path to freedom. The freedom to experience things as they are, and not through an ineffective filter.

Mindfulness will trickle into your life. With practice you will nurture it and support its development. It will grow and permeate into the vast avenues of your life. Mindfulness, by removing the need to pursue the many fruitless rituals and destructive reactive patterns, will allow things to be experienced with a natural flowing acknowledgement that enlivens your senses and your experience. Your life will become rich and fulfilled by the the very events that have always drifted past your senses but have not been truly experienced.

The above attempt to describe mindfulness relies on what it is not and what it can do for you. This highlights the difficulties of describing mindfulness. In some ways it is simple.

It is type of awareness, that is clear, non reactive, intentional and directed towards immediate experience.

At the same time it is difficult to comprehend. Again this is because it is only through the practice and experience of mindfulness that understanding will emerge. What it offers is so significant that maybe it is worth the experiment. Practice daily, under guidance of an experienced practitioner, for eight weeks and then you will know its value or you can then say it is valueless. I can give you this challenge with confidence because I know through personal and professional experience that you and those around you will experience its value.

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