As a Global Community Hub we pondered on this important question the past few days:
What is mindfulness? Scientists in the field of mindfulness stated that the term mindfulness has a plethora of meanings. Mindfulness is an umbrella term used to characterize a large number of practices, processes, and characteristics, largely defined in relation to the capacities of attention, awareness, memory/retention, and acceptance/discernment. We could limit ourselves by staying in our heads with academic terms, but really, should mindfulness perhaps rather be heartfulness? Jon Kabat-Zinn and others made a case that in the Chinese language mindfulness is written with a character for presence over a character for heart. Mindfulness is often spoken of as the heart of meditation for practitioners in both Eastern and Western cultures.
We asked our own hub members for input. Shay, who has a deep passion for transformation and to bring future possibility into form, whether with voice or re-creating a home, favors this definition from the Hakomi method: It is a distinct state of consciousness, characterized by relaxed volition, a surrender to and acceptance of the happenings of the moment, a gentle, sustained focus of attention inward, a heightened sensitivity and the ability to observe and name the contents of consciousness. It is self reflective. Yvette, who is making time for an hour of journaling, art, and meditation as part of her daily routine that prepares her for the day ahead, said: Mindfulness to me is, appreciation of this singular moment in time, not remembering the past or projecting into the future, but staying in the now. Surin mentioned: Mindfulness is being aware of what one is doing in the movements of the body, in the movement in the mind, and putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world.
Most of our members are also actively involved in the MIT ULab course of Otto Scharmer and team. This highly experiential course is based on Theory U, a framework, method, and way of connecting to the more authentic aspects of our self. It introduces the variables of awareness, attention, consciousness, and presencing into self, business, and society. By keeping an open mind, open heart, open will, mindful presence is key of the U process as we lead from the emerging future.
I spent one day this past week at a monastery where l love to go on retreats. I learned a lot of wisdom from the monks during my various visits there over the years, because for them mindfulness is an integrated part of their lifestyle, every day, in everything what they are doing. Over the years I learned that mindfulness is an integral part of who we are, every breath we take, as Jon Kabat-Zinn stated it recently: ‘a life-long love affair’ that gives purpose and meaning to every moment of where we are, in the here and now. In our Global Community Hub we welcome new members who would like to be introduced to some of the basics of mindfulness in small, incremental steps. For members who are already practicing mindfulness, we want to give an opportunity to grow in their practices and encourage them in their individual journeys when we meet in our coaching circles, or other ways we connect as a virtual community. We also welcome practitioners who have integrated mindfulness as part of their daily life routine, because we have plenty of opportunity where we can all learn from each other. I agree with Richard Davidson when he said that when we want to take care of our body, we make sure to get enough sleep, eat healthy, and make time for daily exercise. We get our body in shape to be in better service of others. The time is ready for us to also integrate contemplative aerobics into our daily routine with our mindfulness practices. He predicts that in 30 years it will be as common to do our mental exercise as it will be to do our physical exercise as part of our daily routine. I don’t want to wait another 30 years, do you?