Our experiences are colored by emotions, habits and learned reactions. When we are mindfully aware of our thoughts and emotions as they arise in our mind we can have a clearer understanding of ourselves and the world.
Many of us are plagued by anxiety or frustration. Often when we look back at moments when we felt disturbed, we can see that our perception of events at the time were completely disproportionate. A mindful awareness of our reactions, seeing in real time how our thoughts arise, multiply and disappear, enables us to have a more stable mind, a clearer vision, and more harmonious interactions.
Matthieu Ricard sums it up nicely, conversing with neuroscientist Wolf Singer in their book Beyond the Self:
What we really need is to identify the mental events that arise in our mind and skillfully resolve them. Many of the things that continue upsetting us are superimpositions on reality, mental fabrications that we can easily deconstruct. We need to be more skilful in paying attention to all the nuances of what is actually happening in our mind and in successfully freeing ourselves from being enslaved by our own thoughts…
We invest a lot of effort in improving the external conditions of our lives but in the end it is always the mind that experiences the world and translates these outer conditions into either well-being or suffering. If we are able to transform the way we perceive things, then we will transform at the same time the quality of our lives.
Of course the habits of a lifetime are not going to change overnight, but the clarity and stability that come from developing mindfulness provide a basis for our own happiness and freedom. Then we can create happiness around us, and make a positive impact in our world.
Charles Hastings provides a practical guide to developing mindfulness in his Meditation Practice Foundations. Alan Wallace accompanies us to develop enhanced stability and clarity in his series Insights Through Mindfulness, starting with Mindfulness of Breathing and leading up to a close examination of our subjective experiences of reality in The four applications of mindfulness.
Imagine Clarity’s courses also encourage us to use our mindfulness to develop kindness and compassion. See Matthieu’s explanation of the Practice of caring mindfulness, and the step by step instructions in part 4 of Charles’s Foundations course.