Mindfulness seems to be the new big thing, but although it’s popular it is also quite misunderstood. Essentially, mindfulness means staying focused on, or remembering, something. So the most important thing is choosing what to be mindful of. In Buddhist practice, we chose to focus our mindfulness on a virtuous object, a thought or feeling that gives rise to inner peace.
For example, in meditation we may try to generate a special feeling of cherishing love for others and focus on this feeling. Then, after we have finished our meditation, we remain mindful of this feeling of cherishing love throughout the rest of the day. So this feeling of love is our object of mindfulness: we try never to forget it, whatever else we are doing. Because we are being mindful of a virtuous object, we will stay peaceful and positive.
Simple, eh? Yes, it really is: we just chose a positive thought or intention to remember, and we hold onto it no matter what. Of course it’s not as easy as it sounds – mindfulness is like a mental muscle that needs exercise to become strong. But if we strengthen our mindfulness just a little bit every day, we will gradually improve our ability to hold onto a positive mind.
To help you practice: Mindfulness half-day courses