Updated: Mar 3, 2020
For over 20 years, I thought that the strength of my mindfulness practice and my pursuit of awakening was dependent on the quality of my formal meditation day in and day out. Like so many, I was critical of my practice - was it consistent enough, was I "getting it", was I "doing it right", or "why couldn't I achieve some magical experience".
Then one day (not coincidentally, while meditating), I recognized something that I hadn’t been able to see before. A clear message came forward, “You have a strong mindfulness practice.”
I realized in that moment that each day of my life I live mindfully. I had been for many years. The way I filter my life experiences is through the lens of being present with what is in that moment. I experience the world around me in a very present way. When I find myself not being present, I become aware of that fact quickly and work to bring myself back to the moment. Just as importantly, I am aware that the emotions I experience are impermanent, and I study them with the curiosity of a scientist.
I recognized that when I am able to sit on my cushion and meditate, my life and those days vastly benefit from those sittings. Yet, what I was practicing each and every day was mindfulness “…awareness, cultivated by paying attention in a sustained and particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally,” as Jon Kabat-Zinn defines it.
I allow each moment to be what it is, intent on being curious about it and not judging it, whatever it may be.
I learned this truth many years before and had been studying it constantly, while practicing it and testing it in my own daily life.
After much meditation: weekly group sitting, private sits at home, and intensive practice while on retreat, I am aware that my mindfulness practice is the foundation of my life. I treasure the time when I sit on my cushion, and I LOVE sitting with others. The energy that fills the room when people come together to focus in meditation is supportive of everyone there.