Most of our suffering stems from our instinctual reactions to unpleasant emotions, thoughts, and physical sensations. We tend to either avoid these sensations or get overly caught up in them. Mindfulness is a practice of directing our attention, in a non-judgmental way, to the unfolding experiences occurring within ourselves. It shows us how to meet these experiences with openness, compassion, and curiosity. By doing so, we release ourselves from suffering.
Mindfulness Training Programs are being used by successful corporations, sports teams, business schools and even the military to help their individuals and organizations to maximize their potential. To just name a few:
-Apple -Google -Chicago Bulls
-Harvard -Drucker Graduate School
With over 18,000 citations identified by a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Internal Medicine (2015), Mindfulness Meditation is one of the most talked about trainings in relation to psychological stress and well-being.
Benefits of Mindfulness Training include: stress reduction, relief from depression and anxiety, enhancement of creativity and energy, more restful sleep, a boosted immune system, and enhancement of clear thinking while experiencing intense emotions.
Mindfulness has helped me be able to 'catch' my thoughts and emotions before they suck me into believing in a narrative leading to more suffering. It helps me practice awakening by peeling away multiple layers of unconscious evolutionary instincts that create the algorithms for the cognitive biases I have. It is to make the unconscious conscious. Most conflicts between people stem from unconscious programming that they mistakenly believe as truth.
Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk, a peace activist, and Mindfulness teacher uses the traffic signal light as an example for Mindfulness training. When I encounter the red signal light, my instinct is to fight the red light that is stopping me and slowing me down. I react with anger and frustration. I then judge myself for reacting in anger and frustration, because I should know better than that. I feel shame and guilt for my initial emotional reactions. Mindfulness is peeling away layers of my anger at the red light without judgment. Being ashamed of my anger does not help me to find that peace I am searching for. Mindfulness is the complete acceptance of all my instinctual emotions. It is the willingness to sharpen the focus of the very present, the now. I experience the red light for what it is. From that we can eventually develop clarity of reality.
Mindfulness is the training to get better at seeing our emotions, thoughts as sensations as just passing events. We still experience the physical pain, emotional sadness and angry thoughts, but without believing the stories we use to explain the experience.