What is Mindfulness-Awareness?

(c) Andrew Safer 2013

“Mindfulness-awareness” meditation combines both the precision and accuracy of relating to things as they are (mindfulness) with openness and a greater connection to the environment (awareness).

Mindfulness allows us to experience sensations, thought processes, moods, perceptions and other mental events without becoming enmeshed in our storylines about them. Instead, we keep returning to the breath—the anchor that is always there. We begin to realize that the constant parade of concerns, plans, rehearsals, regrets, problem-solving, etc. isn’t the be all and end all.  Again and again, we see this ongoing parade of past and future concerns and being somewhere else, and come back to the direct experience of nowness. Body and mind begin to synchronize. Through this process, the meditation practice exposes the mind’s natural intelligence, and we begin to discover the basic sanity that has been with us all along.

Have you ever been so focused on details that you miss the big picture—can’t see the forest for the trees? Paying really close attention to what you’re doing can block out everything else. With all the different ways that mindfulness is being presented these days (a search on Amazon retrieves several hundred book titles), it’s possible to find ourselves heading down a path that is all about focusing.

The “awareness” part of mindfulness-awareness acknowledges the whole picture (“seeing the forest”), without any bias one way or another. This refers to awareness of other—totality–and appreciation of the world beyond one’s self-concern. Awareness brings a sense of space (openness), is panoramic, and has a quality of letting go. It does not hold on to the discoveries of mindfulness.

“Mindfulness-awareness” therefore encompasses, on the one hand, precision and accuracy, and also openness, a bigger-picture perspective, and a greater connection to the environment.

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