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Mindfulness: The Power of the Mirror-Like Mind

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In secular mindfulness meditation circles, we are taught to bring our minds back to the breath and the body. The attention on the breath is a preliminary practice, to help us stabilise your attention. When we can stabilise our attention, we bring our attention to feel the sensations of our entire body. Some might have been taught mindfulness for daily life, where we bring our attention to our body in every activity we do. Mindfulness is being with the totality of the body and activity, without distraction. What is the purpose of it? Mindfulness helps us discover the mirror-like quality of our mind.

What is the mirror-like mind?

The easiest way to explain the mirror-like mind is the act of self-reflection. Self-reflection is an act of observing and evaluating our thoughts and motivation. From my experience, I have seldom met anyone who self-reflected. Otherwise, it would be that people are seldom willing to share their self-reflections.

In my limited life experience, I observed most people reflect on others’ actions critically. Very few evaluate their motivations and how their actions might affect others. Most of us go out into the world expecting the majority to be kind and understanding to us, just as we are kind to them – when in fact, when we closely look at our intentions, we may not be as kind as we think we are.

Our mind reflects what the state of the world is like – brimming with the possibility of conflict and war. That’s because we often expect the world to be peaceful, without reflecting on the lack of peace in our minds. What is unpeaceful in our minds, we contribute to the strife we see in the world.

Turning the mind inwards to discover peace

Peace is already within us, and it is not found externally. That’s because peace sought externally inevitably involves forced control and obedience of the masses. Peace within you can only reflect peace outside of you. How does turning the mirror-like mind inward to reflect on your mind’s content bring peace?

Mindfulness is an active state, not a stagnant one. When our attention is stabilised on our body, we live in the present. It is only in the present moment that we can view feelings, thoughts and intentions that arise in our activities and interactions.

Self-reflection with mindfulness differs from the usual mind commentary and feelings we observe of others’ actions. Instead of commenting on others’ shortcomings, we look at our reactions, and how these reactions can cause us to feel unhappy – especially when thoughts/feelings persistently blaming another for our misery keep arising. How does observing these critical thoughts/feelings help us discover the peace already in us?

What stays in the mirror-like quality of the mind?

After learning not to react, and allowing the thoughts and feelings to arise, stay for a while and depart from the mirror of the mind, we might start to wonder, are we our thoughts and feelings?

Aren’t we our thoughts or at least feelings? Isn’t that why we continuously occupy our minds with something, so that we can feel that we are here, alive?

The power of mindfulness (stable attention) helps us observe that thoughts and feelings aren’t permanent. They don’t stay. What causes certain thoughts and feelings to stay is that we might derive pleasure from thinking of them or not wanting to experience them. Wanting to avoid something inevitably causes us to think about it. After a while, we get bored of certain thoughts and feelings. What are we then if we are not our thoughts and feelings?

Why the mirror-like mind escapes our attention

We have spent much of our lives studying the causes of these thoughts and feelings – mostly attributing them to external factors and leading us not to take responsibility for them.

Most of us give our attention to negative thoughts and feelings because we don’t like them and want to get rid of them. Seeing with mindfulness how they are impermanent provides much relief, as we no longer have to act on negative emotions. We also don’t need to ignore them because they don’t stay anyway. Therefore, we can learn to be accepting and compassionate to our negative thoughts and emotions when they arise, to soften their short existence.

If adventitious thoughts and feelings don’t stay and are not us, then, what stays? What can we identify with?

Our mirror-like mind stays.

Since our clear reflective mind does not have any content, it has no negativity. And because it also does not have any pleasurable feelings, we don’t give it attention. Not giving it attention, we think it is a blank state, but it isn’t.

Exploring the state of your empty mind

The mind as taught in mindfulness, does not reside in your brain. The brain is a processing machine, it has no feelings. We feel with our hearts. What can also be felt in the heart, that has nothing to do with the intellectual processes of the brain is intuition.

Mindfulness teaches us that our mind rests in our entire body. We can reflect without thinking. Moreover, reflection involves the heart. When we allow adventitious thoughts and feelings to fall away (since they come and go with external stimulations), we can start to pay attention to this mirror-like mind of ours, that is always there.

When our attention begins to stay comfortably on this empty self-reflective mind, we may discover its radiance and peace. This peace from this empty but clear mind comes from the heart. There are many ways to express this quality of a mirror-like mind that is empty, but the best way is to experience and live it.

By staying and identifying with this pristine and clear empty mind, we begin to feel contented and realise that contentment, just like peace, has always been within us. It is our erroneous belief that these are to be found externally that we have created much strife in our world and chaos on our planet.

Mindful Breath

Mindful Breath is committed to sharing the systematic training of mindfulness with anyone who is keen and open to exploring their relationship with their inner experience for better health and caring relationships towards a gentler and friendlier society.

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