Awareness is one of the key ingredientsof Dhyana Yoga in Hinduism, Zen in Buddhism, Sufism in Islam and Surati in Sikhism.Hindus call it sakshin (witnessing), Buddhist call it samyak samriti (right mindfulness), Saint Kabir and Guru Nanak called it Surati (remembrance), and Sufis call it Jikr (remembrance), but they all talk about Awareness.
The similarities between these philosophies are that we have to be aware and keep observing out thoughts, perceptions and feelings to awake ourselves spiritually and live in eternal bliss.
For the purpose of this article, we are considering right mindfulness as a practise. Mindfulness offers various simple, easy, logical and practical tools to enlighten ourselves and live in eternal bliss.Mindfulness is so easy as it can become part of our daily routine without any extra effort.As a first step, we only need to be mindful and/or aware of our breath, which is the most important thing.When we were born, we took our first breath and when we die; we take our last breath in awareness, and in between, we just forget to acknowledge or being aware of our breath.Breath is a bridge between our body and mind.It aligns our body and mind, and when our body and mind are aligned, we become fully aware and alive.
Once we become aware of our breath, then, slowly and steadily, we can become mindful of our day to day activities such as eating, drinking, walking, sitting etc. Once somebody asked Buddha, what do you and your monks do? We breathe, walk, talk,eat, drinketc., the Buddha replied. The man enquired, ”what is so special in that? everybody else is doing so.’ “The only difference is; we do these things in awareness” the Buddha replied.
As an exercise, whenever you feel stressed, worried, tensed etc., just try to be aware of your in and out breath and you can see, how it can make you calm and peaceful. Mindfulness is a great tool to up-keep mental hygiene, which is importantly needed in present times, as, it helps us to keep our mind fit and healthy. Health of the mind is totally ignored in today’s fast paced life. And it is the biggest reason for increase of illnesses like stress, anxiety, depression etc. Neuroscience has affirmed the benefits of Mindfulness in curing the illnesses like stress, anxiety and depression without any drugs.
While practicing mindfulness, we can start our day just by observing ourbreath; watching the sky, sun, birds, plants, flowers etc.;hearing the chirping of birds, sound of air, voices near and far; to awake all our senses. By being mindful of the nature, which is called Kingdom of God in mindfulness practice, we can automatically become mindful of our inner world. The key word is “awareness’ of our inner world by observing the nature outside,which is also helpful in developing a habit to observe activities of our body and mind.
Once we become aware of ourbreath and day to day activities, our mind develops a habit of awareness and then, it will automatically start observing thoughts, perceptions and feelings and then, we can easily covert our negative feelings and thoughts into positives ones and suffering into true happiness. The four noble truths as provided by Buddha are; 1) Suffering exists; 2) there are reasons for suffering; 3) happiness also exists and; 4) there is a path leading to happiness. And right mindfulness is such path that leads to happiness.
We need to realise that the prime purpose of our lives is happiness and mindfulness is the best practise to develop the habit of happiness. If we keenly observe, suffering is only created by being in the future or past, but, in actuality, if we notice, there are more than sufficient conditions in the present moment for us to be happy, but, we often miss this conditions, as, most of the times, we are also busy in regrets of past or taking care of the future.
Happiness is a habit, which we have to cultivate and nourish, and the skill to cultivate and nourish happiness is Mindfulness.Buddha has said:
“Happiness is available. Please help yourself to it.”
The author is a Founder, Mindfulness & Life Coach at Sachetan (Centre of Mindfulness)