Mindfulness: Introduction

Right Mindfulness
‘Right Mindfulness is at the heart of the path of awakening and radical change. It is the basis for awakened living. Growth must emerge from awareness of what needs changing and mindfulness, with time, gives us direct access to the patterns that keep us from experiencing our lives more consciously, and more directly.’
So, what is mindfulness? Well, within that word we have three clues. The first is mind, the second is full and the third is –ness. We have then a fullness of mind. Mindfulness is primarily concerned with bringing attention to the present as fully as we are able. It has a second and third function. Its second function is developing the capacity to bring attention and awareness to all areas of experience, without exception. Its third function is integrating and developing inclusiveness. This means we stop pushing certain experiences away and we give up discounting areas of our experience as unworthy of our attention, or time.
Mindfulness is practiced both on and off the cushion. On the cushion we engage in formal sitting practice. We can experiment with any technique we like, but formal practice is best when guided by an experienced meditator and competent teacher. 
 Mindfulness however we practice it is a developmental process. It is not an instant cure, but the developing of the capacity to bring our energies back to where we are in as full a manner as possible. It has a lot to do with retraining our impulsiveness and confronting dualistic drives such as the classic attachment/aversion dynamic that informs so much of our experience.
When mindfulness is developed it pulls in the other factors of the path. This is a very useful point to know. Mindfulness allows us with time to experience directly what is Right Speech, Right Action, and so on, without having to rely on prescriptive or abstract descriptions.
Mindfulness is typically aimed at four targets; the body, feelings (sensations), mental formations (or states) and phenomena. These are the basis of our experiencing presence in the world. In practising mindfulness it is useful to work with these four factors in the order they are presented. The first field of mindfulness is the body, and for good reason.