On Mindfulness

I teach meditation and mindfulness. It is a bit like teaching swimming. It is experiential. Practice is very important in acquiring it. It is learned by doing not by reading about it. You only need curiosity and interest in meditation to start. Meditation does not demand any particular posture, or special clothing. You don’t need to grow a beard or dreadlocks. You don’t need to be a religious person or a vegetarian.

Meditation is about non thinking, but it doesn’t mean that you will stop thinking and become a fool. It means that you will learn how to use your intelligent, thinking mind when you need it and let is stop bothering you when you don’t need it. You will get more space to move in. Meditation will expand your life. You will get more aware of signals and messages communicated by your body. These signals are so easily ignored and suppressed.

So how do we do it? The first and simplest exercise in mindfulness meditation is scanning the body. We focus our attention on the kinesthetic sense, feeling and sensing what is happening in the body, and we do it without judgment, without giving any name or adjectives to it. We allow for what is there to be there. It sounds very simple, but in reality it turns to be quite difficult, because habitually we never do it. We engage the thinking process automatically, so we have to learn and train how to keep that switched off. By leaving the thinking process unattended, we stop noticing it, stop feeding it. And it simply quiets down. That’s how and where it starts.

You don’t really need a teacher to do it, but it is helpful to practice it with somebody who will gently remind you to pull your attention away from thoughts towards the present. It may be as enjoyable and useful as learning to swim.