…Practising mindfulness means trying to be more present either to the particular aspects of our experience that we have chosen as themes for mindfulness practice, or to whatever is happening right now, if we choose to be unspecific with our focus. In the example you gave of having the mind quieten down so that you experience emotional neutrality, to be mindful would be to really notice this, to stay with it, so you can realize that you are experiencing yourself in a very different way from usual.
If you remain aware when thinking resumes, what happens next? If awareness is really clear, we can see what is actually happening. When we can observe how the movement of the mind we call thinking works, how its energy feels, we can recognize how the energy behind the thinking creates suffering, although a moment before everything was all right, was just how it was. It doesn’t really matter then if you see what you see as a glass of tea or an accumulation of pixels.
Whether suffering arises has to do more with our grasping at an experience, fearing it or craving it, or wondering what will come next. You can have an altered state of consciousness, see something in a different but still constructed way, and then delight arises and you wonder whether this is enlightenment – whether ‘this is the way it really is.’
Now if your mindfulness is strong, if awareness is not fixated on the object, you notice what is happening, your reaction becomes part of the content of your awareness and you think: ‘Isn’t that interesting? Who is it that is getting excited, potentially making a problem out of this?’
Thus you can see how suffering arises when there is this sense of ‘me’ and ‘What’s in it for me?’
This reflection by Ajahn Abhinando is from the interview, Awarenesses & Desire, (pdf) p.10.