What does it mean to live your life with ‘mindfulness’? According to Buddhist philosophy, ‘Right Mindfulness’ is the seventh step on the Noble Eightfold Path. It is basically telling us that we need to pay attention – be in the moment, here, now, and aware of all our actions and thoughts, and of all that is going on around us. BE AWARE, BE CONSCIOUS, BE PRESENT. In some ways, the seventh step encompasses the previous 6 steps which are Right View, Right Intentions, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood and Right Effort. Step 8 is Right Concentration.
A simple example that many people may relate to, is when you are driving home from work, and all you are thinking about is how you can’t wait to get there so you can have dinner, relax, see the family, watch your favourite TV programme and so on. How many of us have arrived at home, only to realise we don’t even remember the journey? We are on auto-pilot. We HOPE the light was green when we went through, but if we think back, we don’t even know for sure. We weren’t MINDFUL.
Another example is when your spouse may be telling you about something, but your attention is really centred elsewhere – on the TV, computer, thinking back to a problem at work…. did you really hear what your spouse was telling you? Did you give them attention in that moment? Of course it is very easy to get caught up in our thoughts and problems so our attention is not focussed on what is happening now, but we can learn to change that.
Begin to take notice of everything around you.
Use your senses to awaken you to life.
What colours are the flowers in your garden? Was the food I had today sweet, sour, salty, bitter? How did my wife do her hair today? Did I give my daughter a kiss before she went to school? What sounds did I hear as I sat on the bus on the way to work? Did I notice that the man opposite me looked down on his luck, or that the lady next to me was radiantly happy and pregnant?
Bringing your focus into the present moment, so you experience what is going on around you from a new perspective, from a perspective of mindfulness, will enrich your life. Meditation is a good way to centre yourself, and learn to become AWARE.
Don’t go through life being unaware of those around you. Acknowledge their existence.
Be kind to animals (they are part of our global family).
Treat nature and Mother Earth with respect (she allows us to survive on her abundance).
Observe the sticky situation with total presence, so you can deal with it appropriately.
Listen to others. Show that you have heard them, and that you care.
If you are a meat-eater, give thanks to the animal for giving its life that you may live. Seeing meat all packaged up in the supermarket removes us from the BEING that the animal was – we no longer acknowledge that it was once a living, breathing, feeling entity. Honour it by giving thanks.
Be mindful of not only the words you use in everyday conversation, but the THOUGHTS you entertain as well. Don’t use words or thoughts that hurt, abuse or damage another (or yourself).
Be mindful of your actions – to the best of your ability, be kind, caring and do everything with integrity.
Be mindful of what you watch on TV or in the media – try and stay away from negative media as it only brings your energy down with it.
An excellent book to read on Buddhist philosophy is ‘Awakening the Buddha Within’ by Lama Surya Das.
- Buddhism (religiousinsight.wordpress.com)