What is mindfulness and how can you practice it?

Mindfulness can be practiced in many ways. Thich Nhat Hahn says we can be mindful in everything that we do; cleaning the dishes, walking, eating, etc. The thing with mindfulness is that it needs to be practiced. The mind is like a puppy dog, wanting to get involved with everything and all at the same time. A discipline is necessary to bring the mind to the present moment. And while we may have the discipline in other parts of our lives, we may not have it in the concentration or stilling of the mind on one point or object. When we practice this form of mindfulness it begins to reveal our tendencies for where the mind likes to travel (future, past, fantasy, memories, planning, etc). Through acknowledgement and acceptance of how our minds work – that is to say, where our habits are for dealing, coping, storing, decision making, etc – this is when true transformation begins to happen. It is when we stop trying to be something else than what we are right now in this moment! Mindfulness becomes a key to unlocking our personal suffering because we become aware of the suffering we are creating ourselves through our thoughts, behaviors and words. We find clarity and the pathway to our inner most Truth, our core, our heart, our center is revealed.

But this takes practice. And it isn’t something to necessarily seek after. It is something to experience and apply to our life. Below are some definitions of Yoga and of Meditation. Intellectually you will understand them, but the practice is the sensation, the experience, the application of them. Two different things, but when combined, is powerful beyond measure! That is Mindful Evolution.

What is Yoga?

  • Yoga is a practice.
  • Yoga is a practice for the body, mind and spirit to connect so that you can live in the present moment.
  • Yoga teaches us to AWAKEN.
  • Yoga helps us to listen to ourselves, our innate selves.
  • Yoga aids in the awareness of self-exploration and Self Realization.
  • Yoga Asana (poses) are used as tools or gateways to move excess energy and clear the pathway of the mind, allowing you to find clarity in breath, mind and purpose.
  • Yoga is comprised of the Eight-Limbed Path of Yoga, which the third limb is Asana (poses) and the fourth limb is Pranayama (breath control/work) and the fifth limb is Pratyahara (sense withdrawal or turning inward = meditation).

What is Meditation?

  • Meditation is a practice.
  • Meditation is looking inward.
  • Meditation is listening to inner self
  • Meditation is becoming the witness to what is.
  • Meditation is letting things pass through you as they are, without judgement or over-analyzation.
  • Meditation is witnessing your thoughts while the concentration is on the breath. When you lose the breath, caught up in thought, mindfulness practice of meditation reminds you to come back to the breath.
  • Meditation is noticing the “story”, the patterns you create or cling to.
  • Meditation is Self-Realization.

Traditional and Modern Definitions of Yoga

In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali the first Sutra, or thread, says this…

Atha Yoga Asana

…which means now the practice of yoga, reminding us that it is above all else a practice.

Light on Yoga by B.K.S Iyenger, speaks on yoga….

The word Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root yui meaning to bind, join, attach, to direct and concentrate one’s attention on, to use and apply.  It also means union or communion.  It is the true union of our will with the will of the divine.

…When his mind, intellect and self are under control, freed form restless desire, so that they rest in the spirit within, a man becomes a Yukta–one in communion with God. A lamp does not flicker in a place where no winds blow;  so it is with a yogi, who controls his mind, intellect and self, being absorbed in the spirit within him.  When the restlessness of the mind, intellect and self is stilled  through the practice of Yoga, the yogi by the grace of Spirit within himself finds fulfillment.  Then he knows the joy eternal which is beyond the pale of the senses which his reason connote grasp he abides in the reality and moves not therefrom.  He has found the treasure above all others. There is nothing higher than this.  He who has achieved it, shall not be moved by the greatest sorrow. This is the real meaning of Yoga – a deliverance from contact with pain and sorrow.

…As a well cut diamond has many facets, each reflecting a different colour of light, so does the word yoga, each facet reflecting a different shade of meaning and revealing  different aspects of the entire range of human endeavor to win inner peace and happiness.

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, with translation by Sri Swami Satchidananda defines yoga as

When the word Yoga is mentioned, most people immediately think of some physical practices for stretching and stress reduction.  This is one aspect of the Yogic science, but actually only a very small part and relatively recent in development.  the physical Yoga, or Hatha Yoga, was primarily designed to facilitate the real practice of Yoga – namely, the understanding  and complete mastery over the mind.  So the actual meaning of Yoga is the science of the mind.

Annie Carpenter, Master Yoga Teacher, says that

Although our culture tends to shrink yoga to mean only the physical, asana element I believe that yoga truly is a shamanic path, capable of leading us through transformation on all levels. Yoga reminds us what is real, and thus who we are — the light radiating from within.

Founders of YogaWorks and Master Teachers, Chuck Miller & Maty Ezraty share that…
Yoga offers a vehicle for us All to see ourselves and thus to align with our Authentic Self. We become healthier and happier human beings. We then contribute to the greather happiness of the world.