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07 January 2009

Mindfulness

Article Index
Mindfulness
The characteristics of mindfulness
Three fundamental activities
Mindfulness (Sati) and insight (Vipassana) meditation
All Pages

Sati

excerpt from Mindfulness in Plain English by Venerable Henepola Gunaratana

Mindfulness is the English translation of the Pali word 'Sati.' Sati is an activity. What exactly is that? Well, this is one of those questions without a precise answer, at least not in words. Words are devised by the symbolic levels of the mind and they describe those realities with which symbolic thinking deals. Mindfulness (Sati) is pre-symbolic. It is not shackled to logic. Nevertheless, Mindfulness can be experienced - rather easily - and it can be described, as long as you keep in mind that the words are only fingers pointing at the moon. They are not the thing itself. The actual experience lies beyond the words and above the symbols. Mindfulness could be described in completely different terms than will be used here and each description could still be correct.

Mindfulness (Sati) is a subtle process that you are using at this very moment. The fact that this process lies above and beyond words does not make it unreal - quite the reverse. Mindfulness is the reality which gives rise to words - the words that follow are simply pale shadows of reality. So, it is important to understand that everything that follows here is an analogy. It is not going to make perfect sense. Please don't sit around scratching your head and trying to figure it all out. In fact, the meditational technique called Vipassana (insight) that was introduced by the Buddha about twenty-five centuries ago is a set of mental activities specifically aimed at experiencing a state of uninterrupted Mindfulness or Sati.

When you first become aware of something there is a fleeting instant of pure awareness just before you conceptualize he thing, before you identify it. That is a stage of Mindfulness (Sati). Ordinarily, this stage is very short. It is that flashing split second just before you focus your eyes on the thing, just before you focus your mind on the thing, just before you objectify it, clamp down on it mentally and segregate it from the rest of existence. It takes place just before ,you start thinking about it - before that little 'yak, yak' machine inside your skull says, "Oh, it's a dog." That flowing, soft-focused moment of pure awareness is Mindfulness (Sati).

In that brief flashing mind- moment you experience a thing as an un-thing. You experience a softly flowing moment of pure experience that is interlocked with the rest of reality, not separate from it. Mindfulness is very much like what you see with your peripheral vision as opposed to the hard focus of normal or central vision. Yet this moment of soft, unfocused, awareness contains a very deep sort of knowing that is lost as soon as you focus your mind and objectify the object into a thing.

In the process of ordinary perception, the Mindfulness (Sati) step is so fleeting as to be unobservable. We have developed the habit of squandering our attention on all the remaining steps, focusing on the perception, cognizing the perception, labeling it, and most od all, getting involved in a long string of symbolic thought about it. That original moment of Mindfulness just gets lost in the shuffle. It is the purpose of the above mentioned Vipassana (or insight) meditation to train us to prolong that moment of awareness.

When this Mindfulness (Sati) is prolonged by using proper techniques, you find that this experience is profound and it changes your whole view of the universe. This state of perception has to be learned, however, and it takes regular practice. Once you learn the technique, you will find that Mindfulness has a number of interesting characteristics.



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In Section: Meditation - This article belongs to category: Buddhist meditation

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Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life.

Buddha


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Nutritional content tables

Nutritional content tables    Find out how much calories, protein, carbs, cholesterol, vitamins and minerals your food contains.

Nutritional calculators

Nutritional calculators          How much food you need? What is your Body Mass Index (BMI), Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and Body fat.

Depression test

Zung depression self test.         If you want to self assess your mood and you suspect you may be depressed take this test.

Glycemic index and load

Glycemic index and load table.           For both glycemic index and glycemic load the lower the better.

Metabolic type self test

Metabolic type self test Proteins, carbohydrates, or both?        What is good for you?