Monday, May 15, 2017


Awareness with Purpose

When people speak of ‘Mindfulness’, it often conjures images of Buddha’s sitting in the Lotus position while contemplating the mysteries of the Universe. But practicing mindfulness is a major factor in finding confidence and success as well as happiness.

The practice of Mindfulness allows us to be our "Best Selves" in every moment because we are existing "in the moment". When we are mindful, we cultivate attitudes that personify our true spiritual nature.

Mindfulness is defined in the dictionary as a “mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.” But it is also a state by which we can attain spiritual enlightenment. It is a key contributor in attaining happiness.

Jon Kabat-Zinn – the founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center – defines ‘mindfulness’ as: “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

I agree with Jon.

First of all, mindfulness involves paying attention “on purpose”. Mindfulness involves a conscious direction of our awareness onto where we are and what we are doing.

Let’s not confuse “mindfulness” and “awareness”. We often use these words as if they were interchangeable terms, especially since awareness is a part of mindfulness, but that’s not a good habit to get into. So what is the difference?

I may be aware I’m in a bad mood, but that wouldn’t mean I was being mindful of my mood. In order to be mindful, I have to be purposefully aware of myself – a chosen awareness – not just vaguely or habitually aware.

Let’s take dinner as an example…

When we are purposefully aware of eating, we are consciously being aware of the process of eating. We’re deliberately noticing the sensations and our responses to those sensations. We notice the aroma of the meal before us. We deliberately take time to allow the aroma to prepare our taste buds for the first bite. We deliberately take time to notice our mouths explode in delight as we savor the morsel. We take time to notice the texture, the spices, the temperature, the doneness… we deliberately take time to enjoy it.

When we’re eating without being mindful, we may be vaguely conscious of what we’re doing, but we’re likely thinking about a hundred other things at the same time, and we may also be watching TV, talking, or working. Therefore, a very small part of our ‘awareness’ is absorbed with eating. We may be only barely aware of the physical sensations and even less aware of our thoughts and emotions.

Because we’re so disconnected from the present moment, our thoughts wander in and out in an unrestricted way. There’s no conscious attempt to bring our attention back to our eating. There’s no purposefulness. And without that, we completely miss out on an opportunity to attain happiness. Happiness is right there for the taking, but lack of purposeful, active awareness conceals it from us.

Purposefulness Matters

Purposefulness is a very important part of mindfulness. Having the purpose of staying with our experience – whether that is breathing or something as simple as eating – means that we are actively shaping the mind.

The mind is the busiest place in the Universe. We think 35 thoughts per minute on average. That is 2,100 thoughts per hour, 50,400 thoughts per day. For most people, those thoughts are not focused on the present moment. And even when they are, they're often influenced by Ego on one shoulder and Spirit on the other. These influences use our lack of focus to pull our minds from the moment backward into recollections, or forward into visualizations of events that are often without pleasure or are painful to us. Allowing our thoughts to venture to such places creates obstacles to happiness.

The path to inner-peace is often littered with such obstacles. We encounter these obstacles - in part - because we allow ourselves to be distracted from the present moment. We allow distractions to take our focus away from "where we are" and "what we are doing”. Without this mindfulness, we distract ourselves from the present moment with worries such as rent, car payment, loud neighbors, gossip, news, and a million other things. Suddenly, the present moment is gone, and with it, our existence. We are no longer mindful... we are now mind-full... And when our minds are full of such clutter, there can be no inner-peace.

By keeping our mind, body, and spirit in a state of active and open attention on the present – we can learn to observe our thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. When we learn to observe without judgment, we also learn to experience without attachment. Judgment and Attachment are detours on the highway of happiness. They lead to darker emotions like anger, jealousy, or hatred.

Mindfulness is more than just focus on the Now. It is also about the actual realization that the ‘map is not the journey’. This means that we must develop disciplines of: Self-awareness, Observation, Non-judgment, Non-attachment, and Acceptance. These disciplines help us to remove our focus from the map, and shift them to the journey itself. The journey is happening in the Now, and if we are busy reading the map, we miss out on the experiences that our spirit seeks to savor. We miss out on pleasurable events and occurrences that are happening around us. We just missed an opportunity for that which we are seeking.

Happiness occurs only in ‘the Now’.

Stay Zen!

Joe Vulgamore CHT is author of the Best-selling book "Alignment- Law of Attraction and the Seven Universal Laws" and "Powerful Powerful You - Understanding Your Power". He is a Life Coach, Hypnotherapist, and Holistic Healer. For almost 30 years, Joe has helped thousands of people from over 14 countries, across 5 continents, to make life-transformations through one-to-one coaching and workshops

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