Right Mindfulness in Buddhism
Buddhists emphasize having ‘Right Mindfulness’ as a vital part of meditation as well as one of the most important steps in the eight-fold path to enlightenment. Having mindfulness is being completely aware of what happens to us and in us and only focusing on these things. Right mindfulness, defined as “the clear and single-minded awareness of what actually happens to us and in us, at the successive moments of perception,” holds an essential role in the practice of Buddhist meditation (Klostermaier, Buddhism, Pg. 132). This same concept can be beneficial to people that do not even practice Buddhism. Living life in a state of mindfulness promotes relaxation, awareness, efficiency and control. All of these qualities, also known as miracles of mindfulness, are the basis for Buddhist meditation and the goal of developing mindfulness. In a broader sense, these are valuable attributes in many cultures and promote a better life for everyone.
Right mindfulness is essential in Buddhism because it provides that basis for the awareness and concentration that is essential in Buddhist meditation. Basic meditation consists of the practitioner concentrating on a single item or thought, and only that thing, for an increasing amount of time. Concentrating on a particular item allows a person to “see it deeply,” or to know the object of concentration with the greatest fullness possible (Hanh, The Heart of Buddha’s Teaching, Pg. 64). The benefits of this are most obvious in relationships with others. For example, for a father to concentrate fully on his son while they interact, is beneficial, not only for the son, but for the father and their relationship together (Hanh, Living Buddha, Living Christ, Pg. 14). In our culture, it is difficult to develop meaningful relationships that last because many people, even when they spend time with a loved one, do not devote enough attention to that person. This is just one of many simple example of how living a mindful life can be beneficial because we learn to devote due attention to the people and causes that are most important to us.
There are many “miracles” that integrate into our lives when practicing mindfulness. The first two miracles are the ability to be aware of the present and to make whatever is present truly present in our minds. In other words, we learn to concentrate on the ‘now’ rather than the past or the future, by which most people tend to become distracted. For example, when we eat, we may be thinking of a wide range of things from what has happened already in the day to what we plan to be doing tomorrow. By being distracted in this manner, we never really get the opportunity to enjoy our meal. Concentrating on the meal that we are eating in the present time makes it present in our actions as well as in our mind. This awareness of our current actions results in the unique chance to enjoy the act of eating a meal.
One may think that we must always...