The notion of mindfulness has different meanings on different levels. Let’s start with the highest and go from there. The underlying basis of everything in existence, including you, is pure unbounded Consciousness. As your awareness evolves, you become increasingly awake to that level. When fully awakened to it, it is experienced as a backdrop to everything in existence. I guess you could say it is similar to how a TV screen is the backdrop to all images, stories, and melodramas projected onto it. Mindfulness exists in a place beyond space and time – eternally present. The true state of mindfulness then is a physiological state, the culmination of evolution.
A state of true mindfulness is sometimes referred to as the witness. In the state of witnessing, you are awake to the level where nothing is really happening. This is what is referred to as maya in the Vedic tradition, the idea that reality is all about change, things, relativity, and action. In the state of pure mindfulness, the backdrop, the underlying reality, transcends relativity, duality, action, etc. When first experienced, it is rather a strange experience. It is as if when you are walking, you are not really walking. The body is walking, and the you, your being, your deepest awareness, is just witnessing the body walking. There is, in fact, an entire approach to spiritual growth sometimes called karma yoga where people try to witness. It is remarkable that thousands, if not millions, of people practice that as a spiritual technique, when in fact it doesn’t work. It is like pretending you are a millionaire. It doesn’t make you a millionaire.
This state of true mindfulness, sometimes called enlightenment, is cultivated over time, primarily through proper meditation. Proper meditation, for example the Surya Ram Meditation, has nothing to do with pretending or trying to be in the eternal present. Sadly though, many meditation techniques do exactly that.
It’s important to note that experiencing pure Consciousness as a witness is temporary. The reason it is experienced as a witness is because there is initially a huge gap between wakefulness to pure Consciousness (the Transcendent) and one’s relative experience of life. They coexist, but are experienced as quite distant from one another. As one lives in that state, over time the physiology refines and the gap is reduced and ultimately disappears. This is all a very profound and beautiful experience, the description of which goes beyond the bounds of this article. I have lectured and written extensively about it in other places *.
The term “mindfulness” is often used as a practice of attempting to keep your awareness on the present, trying to be completely mindful of what is going on in the moment – in the room, in the conversation you may be having, in the activity you may be doing, or what have you. In actuality, that is neither constructive nor healthy.
This all takes place on a more superficial level of life. But by superficial, I do not mean unimportant, I just mean different. On the superficial level of life, past, present, and future exist. Even when the awareness and physiology are functioning properly, there are times when the mind’s attention is absorbed in thinking about the future or the past, having little to do with what is going on in the present moment. In the state of true mindfulness, attention on the past, future, and present are all quite healthy and natural. Trying to force the mind to stay in the present moment does little more than cultivate a state of neurosis, compromising the evolutionary process.
Having said that, at times it is of course important to be able to pay attention to what is going on in the moment. That is just common sense. However, attempting to do that as a spiritual technique is misguided.
The bottom line here is that spiritual growth is a normal and natural process. It seems that many think of it as just the opposite, expecting spiritual leaders to be somehow other-worldish and quite different from what most would deem normal behavior. Personal evolution is a subtle process, a normalizing process, a sublime process. Looking for radical differences on the surface of life in an attempt to believe that you are attaining spiritual progress is largely misguided. There are, of course, certain parameters to stay within on the surface of life, like not becoming an alcoholic, getting a reasonable amount of sleep, eating healthy foods, etc. However, attempting to manipulate your life on subtle levels is unnatural and undermining of your spiritual growth. That is like taking the petals of a rosebud and peeling them back one at a time in an attempt to make a blossom. It is the natural unfolding of the bud that births the beautiful flower.
If you take only one thing from this article, remember that whatever techniques you employ to facilitate your spiritual growth, they must be natural.
What Is Enlightenment?
How to Get Enlightened
Integrating Unboundedness and Boundedness
Spiritual Evolution Q&A
The Self is Revealed to the Self by the Self
What is Enlightenment?
The Golden Frog
This is a masterpiece, rarefied poetry
Awesome! Thanks so much for speaking on this topic. “Mindfulness” is such a hot topic these days, whether people are talking about meditation or daily living. I’m excited for our world that Mindfulness is trending–because it means more people are exploring the benefits of meditation, and are wanting to integrate a spiritual practice or awareness into daily life.
But there’s been something missing in the conversations I’ve heard. It seems that folks mostly talk about it as a choice of bringing one’s attention back to the present moment, often experienced through the senses, thoughts, and emotions. This sounds like work to me! Having practiced the Surya Ram Meditation for a number of years now, I’ve been deepening my exploration of what it means to “effortlessly rest onto the Self”. I’ve been learning that thoughts, emotions, and the senses exist on a more superficial level of life than does the true Self… Bringing one’s attention back to the breath or what the senses experience in the here and now sounds to me like bringing the attention back to the surface levels of the self, rather than resting into the depth.
I so appreciate your ability to describe the nature of consciousness and its evolution. Given your experience and understanding, I’ve been really curious to hear your take on this topic. I find it fascinating, and I hope the global conversation on Mindfulness keeps exploring in this direction. This year we saw the first annual International Yoga Day; I hope International Meditation Day is next!
You are so good at articulating these simple but elusive truths. This blog should be on the front page of the magazine “Mindful” that I see in the grocery store. I think people would take a deep breath and say, thank god.
The world really needs to hear this! It is soo Tiresome and Saddening to see so much wasted spiritual effort on “mindfulness”
Wow, great Blog! Joy Anna and I were just discussing mindfulness with a guest over breakfast a couple of days ago. It is such an interesting topic… It seems to go strike right to the core of current spiritual. Or misunderstanding…
This beautiful blog will help significantly in future discussions on mindfulness.
finally! Someone who can explain this ‘mindfulness” thing clearly- my experience has been most “experts” speak about it in a simplistic and superficial manner…I just love these blogs…
This is a great blog. I feel such relief with these clarifications on mindfulness. What you say makes so much sense.
Brahmarshi..yesterday morning a “piece” of this came together deep inside of me, just as you said it would. What an experience it is when it happens.I am lucky that I have at least a few girls here at the salon that will listen to all of my craziness because I had to share it! There is simply no greater motivation to evolve than when you truly and completely experience the beauty in a given moment of existence.
Thank you deeply for facilitating that gift of motivation.
Beautiful Blog! Always timely and so helpful. Thank you.
What a blog!!
I wanted to ask you about karma yoga a long time ago and yes it felt indeed very unhealthy.
Nice and clear blog lovely!
Interesting blog. Bringing myself back to the present used to seem like such a huge efforting. I am leaning towards being easier with everything which I applied first in the Surya meditation. Really, chewing a raisin 30 times with full attention, while it honors the raisin-maybe not a bad thing, what I really notice is the evolution of my awareness of the raisin in different forms-so past, present and yes the future of the next “raisin” to mull over.
Finally, someone is saying something about “mindfulness” that makes sense. Anybody who has given thought to how impossible and impractical suppressing thoughts about the past and future is has surely rejected the idea. Unfortunately, those same sensible people may be missing out on the deeper aspect of life because they lump all such nonsense into the category of spirituality. I believe Michael Mamas can really help people realize that they can have it all…a complete life that is fulfilling on all levels…that there is another choice out there besides just spiritual nonsense or the complete rejection of spirituality.
Always so refreshing! A gift
Soul stirring blog
I’m haunted by this article, constantly reflecting over it…
Continually getting new angles or facets of understanding.
It’s more than the feeling I get.
Funny, I tried reaching over it again, as if to find the key ingredients or the formula that touched me and I can’t retreat the first read.
But if I read it with fresh eyes, without analysis, It seems to reveal a new song, in between the lines.
It is as if this article, knowledge or principle, is a Muse of some kind…
Is that a technology or cosmic physics ?
Very cool indeed!
Perfect timing! I had just been talking to my brother about trying not to get too distracted, being more “mindful.” Now I have a better feel for what’s going on.
You will NEVER reverse a trend like “Mindfullness” once it has momentum and has currently peaked. It will run it’s course and fade out, valley or trough.
Trying to reverse a trend is futile.
The Real Goal: Try to be on the front of the trend… Create the next new trend……… That’s the trick.
You may reach the “Consciousness” of .01 % and the remaining 99.99% will respond pretty much like herding cattle, or kittens.
Personally, I love the content of this material. LOVE IT!
I agree with you. However, when I am asked a question as I was about mindfulness, I will respond honestly. ‘Not really trying to reverse a trend here. ‘Just responding to a question.
I think most everything I teach could be part of setting a new trend. We will see what happens. Your comment is well said and much appreciated. Please continue commenting on these blogs. All good stuff!
Interestingly enough, a little while ago I learned a segment of the 60 Minutes tv show tonight was about Mindfulness and I just watched. I was happy to see that so many people are interested in meditative and personal development techniques. There is no doubt value in sitting quietly, etc. But at the same time, we offer something so much more effective. To create a really effective technique, first a deep understanding of the nature of life and existence must be known. Then a technique can be derived that is seamlessly harmonious with nature… your nature… Mother Nature. Our gratitude is to the Tradition of Masters who have through the ages passed down this wisdom of the integration of life.
I very much appreciate the honesty and direct response. YES, you have a fertile garden of material here. Sober Honesty should become a new trend… (not betting on that one)
Clarification on my part: I didn’t think you were trying to reverse a trend, but it seemed some of the respondents above would like to sort something out or change something.
There is always a garden of trends about to blossom in American society. I am tracking a couple at the moment that I think will blossom. One of which has rocked the RNC…but speaks to an entirely different but related trend.
It is kind of like watching buds on a rose bush and getting a sense of which ones will pop next.
You can sometimes piggy back on a trend or even more rare, catch one at a turning point and pick it up to turn it into something better. That is rare, takes a big effort and uncanny timing.
You’ve got great material here. Stay in the game!
Someone once said, “Americans are suckers for the truth” and that of course speaks to something else I imagine.
I think we are on the cusp of seeing “rock stars” unlike the world has never imagined…from ancient legends.