If you're not into mindfulness meditation, the title of this blog post may seem like nonsense to you. But like I wrote last year, "Mindfulness has become my meditation."
A frequently-heard saying in the guided meditations I listen to via iPhone apps is Breathing in, know that you are breathing in. In other words, bring mind and body into a state of harmonious relatedness.
Of course, you don't have to always be aware of your breathing. But if your goal in a particular meditation session is to be aware of your breathing, then obviously you need to know that you are breathing to bring about that awareness.
It's entirely possible, very common, in fact, to be doing something physically without being aware of what you're doing. I can read several paragraphs of a book before I suddenly realize, I have no idea what I just read. My eyes were scanning the words, while my mind was thinking about something else.
So I try to get into the habit of saying to myself, "While doing ____, know that I'm doing ____."
Not continuously, of course. That would distract from my awareness of what I'm doing, since if I kept repeating that phrase, I'd be aware of repeating that phrase, not what I was physically doing.
For example, at the beginning of the three Tai Chi classes I attend each week I typically say to myself, "While doing Tai Chi, know that I am doing Tai Chi." Maybe that seems obvious. It isn't, though. After 15 years of learning Tai Chi, I know most of the forms so well I can do them while my mind is elsewhere.
Like, thinking about what I'm going to have for dinner. Thus my body can be practicing Tai Chi, while my mind is visualizing what's going to be taken out of the refrigerator when I get home.
There's nothing wrong with doing that.
It just means that I'm not fully into the present moment, since my body is in one place while my mind is in another place. That's often fine. How would we be able to envision the future if our minds were locked into only being cognizant of what's happening right now?
Ditto for remembering the past.
I'm simply saying that by and large, I've found that life is more pleasant, and seems to flow more smoothly, when my mind is as much in sync with my physical actions as possible. Sure, sometimes we need to be almost totally immersed in thoughts or feelings that take us away from what our body is doing.
Even then, though, we should be aware of our inner contemplation while we're engaged in that inner contemplation. Most of us have had the unsettling experience of talking to somebody, then having them say, "Oh, sorry. Could you repeat that? My mind was somewhere else."
Typically we aren't as unsettled when we aren't aware of what our own mind has been saying inside our head, because this happens so frequently, it is second nature (or even first nature) to us.
Meaning, if our inner voice were to be broadcast to the world at large via a psychological loudspeaker, other people would look upon us as if we were crazy -- much as mentally ill homeless people are viewed when they stand on a street corner and blurt out whatever pops into their head.
A main difference between them and us is that we're able to keep our bizarre non-sensical stream-of-consciousness thoughts to ourselves while we walk down a sidewalk. Which shouldn't fill us with pride in our sanity. We're just better at keeping our craziness inside our head.
Mindfulness practice hasn't made me into a Buddha, for sure.
I still get anxious, sad, upset, angry, worried, fearful, and such just about as much as before. However, I'm working on simply experiencing those feelings as they arise, rather than, say, getting anxious about my anxiety, or sad about my sadness.
Being more mindful of how I'm feeling seems to help me avoid becoming overwhelmed by an emotion, where I make myself feel worse by over-reacting to a feeling I'm experiencing. Feeling worried, I know that I'm feeling worried -- that sort of thing.
It's been a while since I've locked my car, then walked back to my car to see if I've locked it. Like I said back in February, this is a positive sign of my (mini) enlightenment.
Any resemblance between me and this image that I shared in that post is purely coincidental. I do, though, live near a lake that has water lilies, so there's that.