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Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Returning: the essence of mindfulness practice

What would you call mindfulness if you were not allowed to use the word? For me, the alternative name is "returning." Because the mind wanders ceaselessly, it is necessary to return our attention again and again to whatever we're doing just to get through an ordinary day. When we practice mindfulness we return as a deliberate act, not just to get through the day. We find that returning our attention to the moment whenever we find we have drifted away, enhances our experience of living.  

We return our attention in a particular way. In other words, we return our attention with acceptance of reality. So if it's raining, and I wish it wasn't, I don't waste emotional energy condemning the fact that it is raining. It is raining, and there it is. The thing that needs to be done if I'm going out into it is to put on a raincoat or carry an umbrella. Maybe I am not going out. In that case, maybe the next thing that needs to be done is to make a cup of tea. 

But at the heart of all this is returning - and doing so without criticising ourselves for having drifted away.