Science is again and again affirming the reality about mindfulness and meditation that Eastern mystics confirmed millenniums ago. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison recently showed that compared to non-meditators, long-term meditators had significantly increased gamma brain waves. Another study at the same university shows promise for using mindfulness to regulate how we react to stress. Other studies show that mindfulness improves the integrative structure of the brain that increases our capacity for self-regulation.
But all the talk of mindfulness and all the research fall short of discussing how mindfulness relates to our Spiritual Journey.
In essence, mindfulness is Soulfulness! It is true that brain waves change when we meditate or are more mindful, but a deeper question is how it takes our consciousness to the deeper plane of spiritual light. How are we touched spiritually?
Mindfulness is essentially soulfulness. Soulfulness is to realize that we are spiritual beings of light going through human, materialistic experiences, with the goal of rediscovering our Eternal Self within. As we go through life with the inevitable pains and pleasures, we come to realize that we are missing something far greater than all the material stuff of life. This emptiness and lack of meaning cause us to turn to the Divine Source within. When we are first aware and mindful of the Life Principle within us, we connect to our soul, gradually filling our mind with thoughts of this inexhaustible source of love and light. Our lives then become full of Divine Grace and we can be said to be living a soulful life.
Life lived for the Soul, by the Soul, of the Soul = Soulful life!
Therefore, true mindfulness is not just one more example of a promised easy fix for getting rid of all problems or never experiencing stress in life. Mindfulness is essentially the means by which we discover who am I, why am I here, and how can I live a more soul-centered life? How can I move ahead of this tiny ego-existence and open myself to the Divine Grace that is infinitely powerful and transforming?
Yes, research does show that relaxation CDs and guided meditations decrease stress and change the very brain waves. But mindfulness can and does lead to so much more on the Spiritual level which is often lost in the focus of relieving stress. Isn’t it true that it is not just stress that bothers us, but that there are moments when we hear the whispers from our inner world about something that appears to be close, yet alluringly unreachable? Isn’t it true that we all long to have that connection or the ability to converse with the higher astral world and the beings of light more than with this physical dimension of life? To know what lies beyond death? To know what happens after our most loved ones leave their physical body and this material world? This is where a mindful life takes us step by step toward the deeper regions of our own inner being. For we all get enmeshed in the material world that we live and practice in; we become more “human doings” than “human beings”!!
Mindfulness is the call of awakening! It is a call of the inner world to come closer, to peep into the space within, where lies the solution for all the agonies of life. My understanding of mindfulness is that it is the most rational approach to the world of mysticism. It is to go through the path of psychology to the world of cosmology, to the world of eternal existential delight. Yes, you and I are born for it. Born to help each other to be mindful of the very purpose of human birth in a world of innumerable species.
The more mindful you are of your inner connection to the spiraling world of changes, the more you are grounded to the very foundation of the eternal flow of the life principle. It creates the bridge to cross over to the other shore while one is alive.
When you are committed to practicing mindfulness, you will enjoy every little step along the extended journey of spiritual awakening. That is the purpose. Enjoy every step and do not be obsessed with the end of the journey. Just contemplate this reality; in our unmindful states we repeat, perform, think and act in ways that bind us, and therefore we bear the fruits of these actions in the form of unhappiness and unpleasant feelings.
Psychologists know that the prelude to anger is unconsciousness and talk about learning self-regulation. You can’t be angry when you are fully conscious and aware. Of course, if you are an actor and acting, then you can show anger while you know that you are just acting like an angry person. But if you are not acting, it is just unconsciousness which brings the burst of negative emotion into an unpleasant manifestation. Mind you, this is a pure example of lack of “mindfulness.” Your practice of mindfulness would make you more alert, and hence, even before the smoke of anger starts to cloud your mind from the fire of hurt ego, you are awake, aware, and with a few breaths, you just watch the clouds pass away, leaving you as the witnessing self.
I have always felt that life is not to be taken too seriously. Whenever you are too serious about your practice, you most likely will not enjoy it much. I wish that you be serious in your regularity, your discipline, and your passion for the art of mindfulness or meditation. But try it out; when you just relax and don’t hold any expectations about the actual meditation or mindfulness, it will just flow in its own way. However, if you assume that a few days of practice of meditation would grant you a Buddha-like state, and when it does not happen, you just might feel it is not for you and give up your practice!
If you look at life as a play, your meditation or practice of mindfulness will also be a fun trip into the land of your own inner self. Remember no effort in the path of Light goes in vain. Every step in the thousand-mile walk is a step towards the final destination!
The goal is to try to be more mindful of every act you do, including all the daily simple things of life, like taking a shower or brushing your teeth. Just convert them into Conscious acts. Pause between any two tasks and give gratitude that you completed the one and infuse your heart, your gratitude, your prayerfulness, your soulful attitude to the next task. Let the same simple act turn into a spiritual fun, a kind of inner awaking to a feeling of relaxation and surrender.
You too can fly like a bird and soar into the heaven of your own Self within. But your own sincere efforts are only one wing, and without the other wing, that of Divine Grace, you will not reach the essence of mindfulness. We can take flights in the world of our spirit, in our meditative calm, provided we firstly trust in our committed regularity of practice, that is our sincere efforts, and secondly be available to the Divine Grace. Effort and Grace, these are the two wings with which you can fly high in the world of Light and Love. It is the grace that adds value to your efforts and connects it to the Divine Providence.
The research from the scientific community is there, and grows daily. Mindfulness works. But if we practice mindfulness without doing our own sound inner research, we will sacrifice the values of lasting or abiding peace. If we practice mindfulness without our total heart’s passion, it will not bring us the holistic benefit that comes from opening our heart to Divine Grace. It is our passion, our emotion, our wholehearted positive mindset that celebrates our journey. For the goal will remain elusive until you find your Soul’s purest essence, union with your Eternal Self.
Shuddhaanandaa Brahmachari (Kolkata, India), is an international motivational speaker, author, social advocate and man of peace. Founder of Stress Management Academy, Baba’s Simple Art of Managing Stress and Course in Mindfulness are known worldwide, inspiring corporate leadership, students and all seekers of peace and happiness to be the leaders of tomorrow.
Author of the internationally acclaimed Making Your Mind Your Best Friend, Shuddhaanandaa was the recipient of the Man of Peace Award from the World Organisation for Peace in Mexico, 2012. He is recognized as a visionary social advocate for his development of groundbreaking programs that serve thousands of poverty-stricken individuals in slums of Calcutta, India and remote villages of West Bengal. He founded Lokenath Divine Life Mission in 1985.
Please read his new book Cleaning the Mirror of Mind, available on Kindle.
For more information visit http://www.courseinmindfulness