Your practices of Mindfulness and Meditation are a mental balancing act that cultivate two different aspects of the mind. However, by balancing the facilities of the mind, you establish peace and clarity of the mind. These two practices can be compared to the wings of a bird. With two strong and balanced wings, you fly effortlessly.
For this reason it is important to obtain and retrain the mind with both practices in a side-by-side manner. If one of the “wings” is strengthened at the expense of the other, the balance of the mind is lost and meditation impossible.
Realize then that concentration and mindfulness are very different functions of the mind. They each have their role to play in meditation, and the relationship between them is definite and delicate.
Concentration practice is experienced to develop what is known as one-pointedness of mind. In your practice you guide the mind to maintain one static point of concentration. This is achieved by choice, by will-power, and effort. Therefore, concentration practiced is mostly a mentally forced activity. Concentration practice is “forcing” the monkey mind to settle…to “have a time out,” to come to Stillness as it focuses on one activity.
This is achieved by focusing the attention to only witnessing the breath, a mantra, or keeping an idea of an image or object in the mind’s eye.
Mindfulness, is sensitive, soft, easy practice, developed from a state of Metta, or Loving-Kindness. Mindfulness is achieved only by becoming the Observer. Mindfulness practice allows you to notice when you have lost concentration.
Concentration does the actual work of holding your attention with an unwavering focus. If either of these partners is weak, your meditation goes astray.
Concentration could be defined as that faculty of the mind which focuses single mindedly on one object without interruption. Concentration is a tool of the mind. Like any tool, it can be used for good or for ill. Properly used, it can assist you towards liberation from your inner critic, selfish desires, and emotional imbalances. But it can also be used in the service of the ego. It can operate in the framework of achievement and competition. You can use concentration to dominate others. You can use it to be selfish. The real problem is that concentration alone will not give you a perspective on yourself. It won’t throw light on the basic problems of selfishness and the nature of suffering. It can be used to dig down into deep psychological states. But even then, the forces of egotism won’t be understood.
It is your Mindfulness practice that you cultivate Wisdom. In Mindfulness, as the Observer, you are non-critical, and non-judging. Mindfulness understands and allows things to be what they are. In this way, Mindfulness cultivates your innate, inner Wisdom.
Concentration generally requires certain environments in which you are free from distractions, outside influences, noise, and interruption. Mindfulness is not limited by any condition, and it is available to you in each and every noticed Present Moment.
In short, you cannot develop mindfulness outside of yourself, or by force. Mindfulness is achieved in the simplicity of Allowing things to be what they are. It is a state of radical acceptance. Mindfulness is cultivated by constantly pulling oneself back to a state of awareness, gently, gently, gently.
In a state of mindfulness, you see your Rational Mind for exactly what IT is. YOU are not That. You, as the High I have no needs, no desire for achievement or competition. The High I does not need approval from others. High I has no need to struggle or change outcomes.
Mindfulness does not react to what it sees occurring in the Rational Mind. It just sees and understands. Mindfulness is the essence of patience. Mindfulness sees the Rational Mind for exactly what it is, and accepts that. In fact, in Mindfulness, we come to Love every aspect of ourselves as we offering unconditional Love to everything aspect of ourselves… who we have been, who we are now, and who we are becoming.
If you want to grow in mindfulness, radical acceptance is the only route for manifesting Absolute Awareness. The process cannot be forced and it cannot be rushed. It proceeds at its own pace. So, as your level of awareness increases, your ability to concentrate will also increase.
Mindfulness guides your development in meditation because mindfulness has the ability to be aware of itself. It is mindfulness which will give you a perspective on your practice. Mindfulness will let you know how you are doing. But don’t worry too much about that. This is not a race. You are not in competition with anybody, and there is no schedule.
Namaste’ ~ Melinda