With mindfulness we attend to the ability of the mind to be aware and to sustain awareness.
In formal meditation, we attend to the breath, refining and clarifying how we attend to the meditation object because we may be trying too hard. If that is the case, we squeeze and crush that clarity, that spaciousness and stillness. We try so hard, and that’s a becoming, isn’t it? Or we disturb the mind by wanting it to be completely pleasant and free of discomfort, whether the discomfort is physical or mental.
Meditation is the practice of allowing ourselves to dwell in awareness rather than trying to get anything out of it. We nurture and dwell in awareness, sustaining mindfulness rather than trying to make the mind be a certain way—how we conceive it, want it, desire it, or fear it. Nurturing the awareness, sustaining the mindfulness.
The meditation object is just a vehicle for supporting that. The breath is the most common object that we teach, but there are many different ways that we can do it. The same principles apply to walking meditation. Take the simple act of walking and pay attention to the movement, to the simple act of lifting, moving, setting down: the right foot, lifting, moving and setting down; the left foot, lifting, moving and setting down. We can also be attentive to the bodily postures and sensations in the body.
We nurture that awareness and allow it to stand up and become clear. And we carry that developed sense of awareness into whatever else we are doing, as much as we can.
This reflection by Luang Por Pasanno is from the book, Don’t Hold Back, (pdf) pp.99-100.