The moment we knowingly observe our thoughts or behaviours, we are mindful – we know what is happening in the moment. This simple fact transforms the way we live because it grounds us in the present. And the present is our only reality.
When we are out of touch with the present, we find ourselves out of touch with our inner and outer reality. Being out of touch outwardly leads to confused and possible harmful behaviours because our actions can be inappropriate and destructive without our recognizing and acknowledging what we are doing. We are then able, for example, to ignore what we are doing to other living beings or to the environment, and thus persist with harmful activity. This is something we can all see in the world around us at and individual and political level. But there is more to it than this; any form of activity in the world is dependent for its success or failure upon the degree of attention and clarity we are able to bring to it. These are qualities of mindfulness, so a mindful person is more likely to be effective in the world than someone whose mind is scattered and distracted.
Being out of touch with our inner processes is the basis for a lot of psychological suffering because we are unaware of the many forces a play within our mind. While in this state, it is not possible for us to see and understand what is going on, so we don’t know why we feel the way we do. We often won’t even know why we think, react and behave the way we do. Many people are trapped in patterns of suppression, denial, projection, escapism or obsessive thinking in relation to their emotions. This results in the mind coming under the control of psychological complexes and a wide range of psychological “disorders” like anxiety, depression, stress, tension or paranoia. We will experience these painful states without knowing why, and we will be bewildered about what to do about them. We may long to change, but find ourselves unable to do so because we are out of touch with what is going on in our minds and therefore, don’t see or understand the causes.
When we develop mindfulness we find that a natural process of learning and inner discovery opens up because mindfulness brings us into the moment. When we remain in the moment our inherent intelligence is revealed in the form of awareness, which leads to recognition, which in turn enables us to “see” what we are doing at an intellectual and emotional level.
We may experience depression, but not realize that we habitually dwell on negative, harmful or destructive thoughts. We may believe that depression is simply a dark cloud that descends upon us for no apparent reason. When we see that we dwell on negative themes, we have a chance to recognize that there is a connection between our negative thinking and depression. We are then ready and able to do something to free ourselves from a destructive pattern of behaviour, which will then free our minds from depression.
So mindfulness (or meditation) enables our inherent intelligence to manifest. This leads us to recognise what we are doing inwardly. Recognition blossoms into ever-deepening levels of awareness. Where there is awareness, wisdom and compassion naturally grow and transform us at every level. We find that our human potential progressively manifests and our lives become joyful and fulfilled.