The practice of mindfulness is one of Buddhism’s antidotes for getting rid of frustrations, anxieties and suffering, so common to those of us who have not yet discovered that there is no need to experience these avoidable consequences of life.
Mindfulness means being focused on each present moment of one’s existing experience or activity; not only occasionally or when meditating, but at all times. When one practices mindfulness the aim is to become mindfulness; to constantly be mindful of and in the present. If the purpose of our meditation is to be the present moment, not just to be aware of it, then the practice of it is no longer necessary.
Like the Buddhist teaching of no longer needing the raft once we have used it to cross the river, once our practice has become a part of who we are, then we are in a constant state of meditation. Then we need to ask ourselves if we need the tool any longer. Have we crossed the river? Being in that meditative state means simply that we are mindfulness; we are the experience of the present moment. It means that there is no one having the experience, there is only the experience itself. Not only are we the reflection of consciousness, but we are in the present moment experiencing what is happening, not an experiencer, but the experience itself.
To become mindfulness, it is necessary to practice two additional Buddhist teachings: effort and concentration. These three teachings, mindfulness, concentration and effort make up the Samadhi section of the Noble Eightfold Path. Samadhi is being in control of what the brain is thinking. It enables a practical approach to eliminating or lessening dukkha, the Sanskrit or Pali word incorporating in its meaning the negativities of unsatisfactoriness, frustrations, anxieties and suffering. We need to extend the necessary effort to accomplish our goals, and we need to concentrate on the goal.
I remember coming across a bit of humorous philosophy during my teen years, which have always emphasized for me the need to concentrate. I think the philosopher was also a baker, for his advice was “As you wander on through life, brother, whatever be your goal, keep your eye upon the donut, and not upon the hole.” No doubt the baker-philosopher was also a Buddhist.
You can’t become an expert at baking . . . or playing a musical instrument . . . or at painting, crocheting, dancing, or anything else, unless you extend the necessary effort and concentration. You have to keep focused on what you are doing. You have to be mindful of the goal (the donut), which is the result of your baking (your practice), your acquisition of sufficient wisdom to know that you have lost dukkha and found sukha (satisfaction, contentment).
The Buddhist approach to eliminating dukkha is the practice of The Path. Following The Path is like taking, on a daily basis, eight vitamins: U, T, S, A, L, E, M, and C; translation: skillful and realistic Understanding, Thought, Speech, Action, Livelihood, Effort, Mindfulness, and Concentration.
Usually, the Buddhist teachings of Samadhi, (effort, mindfulness and concentration) is explained as exerting the necessary energy to enable learning to see things as they really are and being focused and aware of whatever one is doing or experiencing. A deeper meaning might be to create oneself to lose oneself in the reality of recognizing that you are the experience or object of your mindful and concentrated effort.