“So the secret is just to say ‘Yes!’ and jump off from here. Then there is no problem. It means to be yourself in the present moment, always yourself, without sticking to an old self. You forget all about yourself and are refreshed. You are a new self, and before that self becomes an old self, you say ‘Yes!’ and you walk to the kitchen for breakfast. So the point of each moment is to forget the point and extend your practice.” -Shunryu Suzuki
Responding to the question, “How can I be free of anxiety, how can I find peace?” the historical Buddha answered: “When breathing a short breath know that you are breathing a short breath. When breathing a long breath, know that you are breathing a long breath.”
These were some of the Buddha’s early, profoundly simple instructions on mindfulness practice. Mindfulness is the quality of awareness of paying attention in a particular way:
- With purpose
- In the present moment
Mindfulness includes the capacity to notice and observe bodily sensations, thoughts and feelings, to decrease reactivity to challenging experiences. Mindfulness is a way of increasing awareness, and being less on autopilot. The focus is more on our experience than on the labels and judgments we apply to our experience.
Another way to define mindfulness is “a penetrating understanding of reality.” Practicing mindfulness means not just noticing what is happening on the surface, but also penetrating - seeing beneath-the surface of our conventional ideas and beliefs. When we do this we begin to realize that how we think of ourselves is not a fixed, solid, unchanging entity, but a series of ever-changing processes.
So, the secret is to say “Yes” to appreciating and celebrating your beautiful, undefinable, sacred, ordinary life.