Mindfulness meditation is also known as insight because the intention is to gain
insight as to the true nature of reality. While concentration involves the
practitioner focusing their attention on a single object, in mindfulness
meditation practice, every aspect of experience is welcomed and appreciated.
With concentration practice, we give the attention a target that keeps us anchored in the
present moment. The target can be a physical object, or more commonly, the
breath. We give the mind something consistent to focus on and this becomes the
object of the meditation
Whatever is used as the object for the attention, the aim is to keep the mind
focused as often as you remember to do so. As the mind starts to wander, we
simply direct the mind back toward the object of attention with a sense of
What do I mean by friendliness? Whenever we become lost in thought or
confusion, we simply acknowledge those thoughts and then gently re-focus the
attention. If we consciously try to prevent thinking, it’s going to have a
negative impact on our practice. Instead, the moment we recognize we have
become distracted, we gently bring our attention back.
We do this as many times as distraction or thought occurs, without chastising
ourselves for having failed or getting emotional about it. There is no
failure. We simply bring our attention back the moment we acknowledge we have
Eventually, the mind will become calmer and discursive thought will begin to
slow. As you notice your mind becoming calmer, avoid the temptation to think
about your experience. Rather, keep a “friendly” attention on the focus of your
Mindfulness meditation differs from concentration in one important way. Where
concentration involves the practitioner focusing their attention on a single
object, in mindfulness meditation practice, every aspect of experience is
welcomed and appreciated.
With mindfulness meditation, we take on the role of an impartial observer of
everything that passes before our attention. Our intention is not to be
focused, but rather to be mindful, that is, to be fully aware and awake of what
is going on in the present moment. Often the breath is still used as an anchor
to the present moment in mindfulness meditation, but apart from that, no attempt
is made to direct the attention.
Whatever thoughts, so called distractions, sounds, images, ideas, or feelings
arise, nothing is excluded. Everything is welcomed. We simply pay attention to
whatever is there. We do not judge or evaluate. Whatever happens, whatever
occurs is okay – we just sit quietly and observe.
Mindfulness meditation can be applied to all experiences in life. Whatever is
happening, we should not try to hold the experience outside ourselves.
Mindfulness is about embracing reality and the present moment, whether we are
working, running or enjoying a meal.
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