The depth, and multilayers of Mindfulness transcends the notion of just being present. Anyone can pay attention in the present moment, but the level of awareness varies from person to person. There is no way of knowing how present someone is by just observing them, although you can certainly tell a distracted or inattentive person from someone who isn’t. But what determines how present we truly are; is how present we are with ourselves, and only we can know that by how aware we are of our own present moment awareness.
Now, that may sound like a mind game, or a play on what awareness really means. Awareness is multi-layered, meaning there are different levels of perception or understanding. An example of that is looking at a painting, and what one person sees versus another. It could be that only some of the details, or what is most obvious in the painting is seen by one person, and someone else might see much more. There might be shapes or symbols in a painting that could be more hidden, or less visible to the eye immediately upon gazing, and takes more time and focus to see it. And the same can be said about Mindfulness, and how aware one is in a moment; especially with themselves.
Mindfulness, at its best, keeps us honest with ourselves, and does not allow for any hiding or self-deception. But how do we know we’re being fully honest with ourselves? That depends on how truthful you are in any given moment, and what you may or may not what to bring to the foreground of your awareness. That means your fears, insecurities, habits, tendencies, proclivities, addictions, or anything you might not want to focus on. And if that’s the case; present moment awareness becomes selective, and only used when it’s easy, convenient, or comfortable. That, unfortunately, is part-time Mindfulness, which is a watered-down version of awareness. If that’s true, one should say they are aspiring to be more mindful, especially of themselves, and acknowledge that Mindfulness is a process of becoming more aware about everything; including what we would prefer not looking at. Like the quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson; “Life is a journey, not a destination” the same can be said about Mindfulness. If we look at being more present and honest as a moment-by-moment practice, then we honor the journey of awakening, and make a concerted effort to be real and truthful with ourselves; even if it’s uncomfortable.
Mindfulness is being in the present moment with total awareness, and that means having an awareness of whatever it is we’re uncomfortable putting our focus and attention on. Just being aware of our discomfort is honest, and if we are totally present with it, we can not only be with it without rushing, but learn more about ourselves, and move through our discomfort or pain with additional knowledge about who we are, which is so helpful and necessary if we want to grow and evolve. And that is the greatest reward of Mindfulness; to know ourselves better for the sake of evolving. By being present in the moment, no matter what it gives or shows us; we accept it with love and non-judgment because we know that it will help us become the best version of ourselves, and who doesn’t want to show up and be fully aware for that?
Ora Nadrich is founder and president of the Institute for Transformational Thinking and author of "Says Who? How One Simple Question Can Change the Way You Think Forever". A certified life coach and mindfulness teacher, she specializes in transformational thinking, self-discovery, and mentoring new coaches as they develop their careers.