What is mindfulness?

Thich Nhat Hanh, a world renowned Zen Buddhist monk and writer describes in his book Fear, that body and mind are one.

His approach is based on traditional teachings but certainly come under the umbrella of mindfulness. This is the practice of paying attention to one’s own thoughts and feelings in order to improve wellbeing. When I have felt the sadness, frustration and disappointment of my big plan not working out, I remind myself of his words of comfort. The following passage attempts to convey¬†the experience of practicing mindfulness; not forcing thoughts into a pattern, but allowing them to align with sensations.

First, I need to stop! If my mind is tense so is my body. If my body is in unnecessary tension so my brain will be seeking patterns of past threat and I will find my thoughts becoming negative and unhelpful in the present.

Return my attention to the body – it breathes. Watch each exhalation and feel my breath lengthen and deepen. Slowly the body releases the tightening. The belly moves outward and in the filling of oxygen into my lungs the breath and the expansion is a renewal. I’m slowing down and my thinking comes ‘back on line’!

Now, walking or sitting , I can train myself to come back to the present moment. I can tell myself I feel the body being supported by the chair or the ground I’m standing on. I smell any fragrance or aroma. I look into the near distance and the far distance. I hear sounds in front, behind, above, below, around me. So the noticing becomes like the ship’s anchor, it stabilises me in the ever constant change.

Then I am ready. Receptive in reading words of mindfulness. Thich Nhat Hanh offers the suggestion we can stop any blaming or making judgment of others and look inwardly and work on whatever unskillfulness (on our part) may have contributed to a difficulty with another.

I understand.

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