What is mindfulness and why should you care?
The term “Mindfulness” as used in this website refers to a practice designed to develop a specific set of attentional skills. Like most skills, these are developed over time through regular, systematic practice. The development of the mindfulness skill set brings with it numerous benefits ranging from stress management and pain relief to deep insight into the true nature of self and world. Ultimately, and perhaps most importantly, mindfulness is a path to greater happiness.
The mindfulness skill set has three components: concentration power, sensory clarity, and equanimity. Concentration power is simply the ability to focus your attention on whatever aspect of experience you deem relevant for as long as you want. Sensory clarity is the ability to have an enhanced awareness of the subtle and separate components of each stream of sensory experience as it arises in the present moment. Equanimity is an attitude of loving acceptance, peaceful allowing, non-judgmental tolerance, and radical non-interference with respect to the natural flow of your sensory experience. These skills can be developed through the practice of a wide variety of techniques. The sustained practice of those techniques IS the path of mindfulness.
In some ways, mindfulness is a science of the subjective. The scientific method of studying and understanding the objective world is in part based on a set of observational skills. Scientists use tools like microscopes, telescopes, particle accelerators and countless others that allow them to detect ever more subtle phenomena and to resolve observed phenomena into component parts as a way of understanding those phenomena. This is analogous to the sensory clarity component of mindfulness. Scientists also try to observe phenomena without interfering with or biasing their observations. This is analogous to the attitude of equanimity that a mindfulness practitioner develops.
Although mindfulness lays claim to a rather broad range of benefits, it increasingly has the scientific data to back up its claims. Indeed, the level of scientific interest in mindfulness has exploded in recent years such that it seems a week never goes by without a mindfulness study hitting the news. Not only is mindfulness beneficial, but it costs essentially nothing to practice it and anyone can learn to do it. Of course there IS a price to be paid – it takes some time and effort on a daily basis. But the sooner you begin, the sooner you can enjoy those many benefits.
There are many ways to get started in mindfulness. This website is one of them. Welcome!