Mindfulness is being agile and receptive to one’s own experience.
To describe mindfulness, Gautam Buddha gave an image of a barrel that is so full of water that even one more drop will cause it to overflow. We can learn to be completely filled with the flow of life, to trust and learn from rather than to judge our own experience.
Mindfulness can mean different things at different depths of skill and experience. Although at first we may feel awkward as we “watch ourselves,” we do not try to control or suppress. If the mind is busy, we are intimate with the experience of busy mind.
Sometimes we may rejoice when we remember we are allowed to feel fully our feet, or even one part of an out-breath, or when the sound of a bird surprises us into presence.
As we learn from experience of body and mind, life gets lighter, and we are less often trapped in habit-energies and stories divorced from reality. There is much more room for wise decision-making in daily life—when not to speak, when to speak, about what, and to whom, for example.
Gradually, mindfulness reveals a spaciousness that allows a deeply contented flow of life—spontaneous joy can float through us, and we are more available to serve the common good.