Buddhist Mindfulness Essay

This essay has a total of 1492 words and 6 pages.

Buddhist Mindfulness

Buddhists emphasize having ‘Right Mindfulness’ as a vital part of meditation as well as
one of the most important steps in the eight-fold path to enlightenment. Having
mindfulness is being completely aware of what happens to us and in us and only focusing on
these things. Right mindfulness, defined as “the clear and single-minded awareness of
what actually happens to us and in us, at the successive moments of perception,” holds an
essential role in the practice of Buddhist meditation (Klostermaier, Buddhism, Pg. 132).
This same concept can be beneficial to people that do not even practice Buddhism. Living
life in a state of mindfulness promotes relaxation, awareness, efficiency and control.
All of these qualities, also known as miracles of mindfulness, are the basis for Buddhist
meditation and the goal of developing mindfulness. In a broader sense, these are valuable
attributes in many cultures and promote a better life for everyone.

Right mindfulness is essential in Buddhism because it provides that basis for the
awareness and concentration that is essential in Buddhist meditation. Basic meditation
consists of the practitioner concentrating on a single item or thought, and only that
thing, for an increasing amount of time. Concentrating on a particular item allows a
person to “see it deeply,” or to know the object of concentration with the greatest
fullness possible (Hanh, The Heart of Buddha’s Teaching, Pg. 64). The benefits of this
are most obvious in relationships with others. For example, for a father to concentrate
fully on his son while they interact, is beneficial, not only for the son, but for the
father and their relationship together (Hanh, Living Buddha, Living Christ, Pg. 14). In
our culture, it is difficult to develop meaningful relationships that last because many
people, even when they spend time with a loved one, do not devote enough attention to that
person. This is just one of many simple example of how living a mindful life can be
beneficial because we learn to devote due attention to the people and causes that are most
important to us.

There are many “miracles” that integrate into our lives when practicing mindfulness. The
first two miracles are the ability to be aware of the present and to make whatever is
present truly present in our minds. In other words, we learn to concentrate on the ‘now’
rather than the past or the future, by which most people tend to become distracted. For
example, when we eat, we may be thinking of a wide range of things from what has happened
already in the day to what we plan to be doing tomorrow. By being distracted in this
manner, we never really get the opportunity to enjoy our meal. Concentrating on the meal
that we are eating in the present time makes it present in our actions as well as in our
mind. This awareness of our current actions results in the unique chance to enjoy the act
of eating a meal.

One may think that we must always be aware of the present, but there are many examples of
when we are not. When we drive home after work, we do not concentrate on driving home, we
think about what we will prepare for dinner and all of the tasks that we must complete
before going to bed. Likewise, when we eat, we are constantly preparing for the next bite
of food before we have enjoyed the current one. Too often, our minds are in so many
places and in so many different directions that it causes a great inefficiency in our
actions. Therefore, it makes sense to devote ourselves to one task or thought at a time
simply because it is a more efficient use of time. The two first miracles of mindfulness
are the beginning of learning to be efficient in our thoughts and actions as well as
learning to be in the present and aware of everything we do.

The third miracle of mindfulness applies most directly in our relationships with others.
By being aware and attentive in our relationships with others, we nourish those
relationships. Consequently, if we are not nourishing those relationships, we are
contributing to their demise. What a person can learn about another by simply being
attentive is astounding. We learn about their habits, likes, dislikes, dreams, worries,
and innermost thoughts. How can any of us say that we are a good friend, boyfriend, or
husband if we do not practice mindfulness in our relationships with others?

The sixth miracle of mindfulness, understanding, is another aspect that is directly
beneficial in everyday life. As Hanh points out, “When we understand something, we often
say I see” (Hanh, Pg. 66). Clearly meaning in such a case that we have understood
something that we did not understand before. When we devote due attention to something,
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