To live mindfully… is to bring greater awareness to each activity, to be more present to each moment, and to catch subtle experiences that all too often go unnoticed.
.Mindfulness Has Five Benefits
- Interpersonal Sensitivity
Mindfulness makes us more present to each person we meet, more aware of the other person’s feelings and many messages conveyed by subtle body movements and vocal tones. This allows us to attune to their motives and emotions and to be more empathic with their feelings.
Empathy is the ability to share another person’s feelings. Empathy is an especially crucial skill, and research shows that meditation is one of the few methods known to enhance it.
- Refining the Senses
There is much talk in spiritual circles about giving up sensory pleasures, but much of this discussion is superficial and mistaken.We don’t necessarily need to give up sensory pleasures, but we do need to give up our attachment to them. Sooner or later any attachment causes suffering, and sensory attachments are no exception. Free of craving, we can enjoy our pleasures without fear or worry.We also need to refine the senses by honoring each experience and bringing to it a careful, gentle, and penetrating awareness or mindfulness.
Refined Senses Offer Three Major Gifts
1) They enhance the appreciation and pleasure of each moment.
2) Because each experience is more rich and satisfying, there is less craving for more experiences. The appreciation of quality experiences replaces the raw hunger for quantity — the glutton becomes a gourmet.
3) Refining the senses is an excellent mental training that fosters beneficial qualities such as concentration and calm.
- Knowing One’s Mind
As awareness matures, it is able to observe not only the outer but also the inner world with increasing precision. Much that was formerly unconscious becomes conscious. Making the unconscious conscious has been the essence of meditation for thousands of years, and meditative awareness can penetrate far below the levels of psychotherapy.
- Freedom from Automaticity
Awareness can break the chain of dependent origination in the instant after a crisis. This deconditions and weakens the habits of craving and aversion, and thereby liberates us from our own conditioning.
- The Healing Power of Awareness
Mindfulness heals. Many of the unhealthy and self-destructive things we do spring from automatic, unconscious responses. We feel anxious and find ourselves smoking, feel lonely and suddenly realize we’ve finished a box of chocolates, feel hurt by a casual remark and damage a friendship by lashing back automatically. These responses are born of mindlessness and can be prevented by mindfulness.
Mindfulness allow us to guard the mind. To be mindful and guard the mind means we are aware as we reach for a cigarette, chocolate, or harsh word and can therefore choose whether to continue or to make a different response.
Be always mindful of what you are doing and thinking. So that you may put the imprint of your immortality on every passing incident of your daily life.
— Abd’l-Khaliq Ghijdewani, 13th century Sufi