What is mindfulness and what does it mean to be mindful? Is mindfulness some mysterious mindset reserved only for the more spiritually inclined among us? What does a true definition of mindfulness have to do with daily living and the life changes I want to accomplish? Great questions with some non mysterious answers offered below ...
Ok, I know I promised a functional non-mystical answer to the question, 'what is mindfulness?'
Then the first thing I do is introduce a sentence that's all the bit as mysterious and mystical as the meaning of mindfulness itself! Knowing the path and walking the path are two different things. Now what the heck does that mean?!!
And what on earth does this have to do with a clear definition of mindfulness? Please bear with me ...
What if I told you that the quote above embodies one of the simplest, nonsensical meanings of mindfulness you're likely to come across. What if I told you that it contains a functional definition of mindful, one you'll be able to start using immediately towards the inspired life changes you're after? Would you be interested?
Good, you're still here! So what's the functional meaning of mindfulness hidden in this quote? Let's see ...
Knowledge is important - knowing the path is important. Whether it be self-knowledge, specific skilled knowledge or knowledge of a situation or terrain you aim to negotiate, there's no denying the importance and value of knowledge. 'Knowledge is power' indeed. It provides for a solid foundation and a great place to start.
But knowledge isn't an end in and of itself, is it?
Once we have the knowledge, once the knowledge is ours, we instinctively want to know what to do with it. This is the ultimate goal and aim of knowledge. Therein lies its highest value - as it pertains to living or action.
Knowledge is meant to be used.
So what does this have to do with understanding what is mindfulness? How does this help us know what it means to be mindful? Time to bring things together ...
The mind knows. The mind is our repository of knowledge. Once the mind knows, it's then up to the body to carry things out.
This is where, "Knowing the path and walking the path are two separate things." We can know something but fail to act on it or carry it out. We've all experienced this in one way or another.
You may know that smoking is bad for you, for example. You may know that the habit is hurting you and detrimentally affecting your health and your life. You may have consciously resolved to quit. Yet you may also fail to follow through on your stated and self-proclaimed intentions. You may fail to see your declared life changes through.
Knowing the path and walking the path are two separate things indeed. This is where the simple, yet powerful definition of mindfulness we've been building towards comes in ...
Mindfulness is none other than the enlivening power that allows you to act on what you know. Mindfulness is what allows you to bridge the gap between mind and body - bringing the mind-body together as one.
A slightly more mystical way of putting it, but no less accurate, is that being mindful is to be mind-full - your body is filled with mind - no separation.
There you have it, mindfulness defined.
I hope you aren't disappointed or fooled by the simplicity of the definition. And I hope it meets my initial promise of providing a functional non-mystical answer to what is mindfulness and what it means to be mindful.
Exactly how is this a functional definition of mindfulness? How can you use mindfulness thus defined to better your life right now? Know this ...
My aim in this article was to provide a working definition of mindful - defining mindfulness in a way you can use towards inspired life change. Knowledge is a stepping stone to inspired life change, but it isn't the whole picture of it. The other side of the coin of change is mindfulness.
If you know you should do something, but find yourself reluctant or 'unable' to follow through, consider it a call to be more mindful. It's a call to step out of the mind, bringing your body and mind more fully together operating as one. This site provides you with different pathways to do this. Changing your life a day at a time is one powerful place to start.
To ensure you're stepping out of the mind to realize the knowledge you have inside, make a habit of asking yourself, 'What new practices or inspired routines have I incorporated into my life as of late?' 'What daily habits have I integrated as naturally and instinctively as the breathing I do?'
After all, what is mindfulness if not a conscious integration of life? Asking yourself these questions will help you capitalize on this living definition of mindful to keep your eyes on the ball and your feet on the path.