Mindfulness has been used in various contexts – spiritual, psychological and therapeutic – to refer to a contemplative technique of taking a non-judgmental approach to observing the flow of experience within each moment. As well as technique, it can be used to describe both a state of altered consciousness and a personality trait or characteristic. In this blog I want to discuss how the application of mindfulness within these contexts and perspectives is consistent with depth connectedness and potentially entering into a state of bliss.
Before I get to mindfulness, I want to contrast it with our normal state of mind. Our normal day-to-day consciousness tends to be a constant stream of thoughts, feelings, emotions, perceptions, imaginings and memories. All of these phenomena are called the contents of consciousness. I read somewhere that most people have around 60,000 thoughts a day! Not so sure about that figure but it’s a lot. By being consumed by the contents, we remain completely unaware of the state of consciousness that holds the flow of experience, our awareness.
So our awareness is focused either outside or within our body, or on some past or future event. It isn’t at a higher state of awareness, a meta-awareness that can observe the contents and the state of associated consciousness. It is reactive to what is happening or needs to happen in each moment. For the most part we tend to be on auto-pilot, waking up each morning and becoming immediately immersed in habitual, reactive thoughts and feelings.
We inhabit an inner world of fleeting mental states without any real sense of perspective of how much we are enmeshed within them. So we become enmeshed in a virtual reality of our own creation via perception and awareness. Reality is not so much out there, that is objectively defined but created within our mind (not brain). The contents and state of mind will determine our experience and understanding about not just our world but who we really are and life meaning.
Mindfulness practice allows you to be present to immediate experience by neutrally and honestly perceiving the inner and outer landscapes of reality. It is characterised by non-judgmental, childlike openness and an accepting and empathic attitude towards everything that one is aware of, especially if it is unpleasant. Since awareness, whether it be self-awareness or awareness of the ‘external’ world, exists within consciousness, then mindful perception will help transform your mental awareness which sustained will transform your consciousness.
Becoming deeply and consistently mindful will therefore deepen your state of consciousness, away from the normal state of consciousness of our distracted, focused and habitual mind. In deepening consciousness we transit from a doing or functional approach to living. In embracing presence of moment-to-moment experience, we experience a way of being in which we are calmly present in a spacious, grounded state of consciousness.
In this state of being we experience a more profound or tranquil relationship with our mind, with others, with nature. In a sense we begin to wake up to the fullness of experience, at least to the potential of fuller, more profound engagement with our consciousness and the world that it co-creates. Within a heightened state of awareness of that which we are doing e.g walking, painting, playing an instrument we enter into a state of flow in which we are totally attentive in a timeless, interconnected mental space. This experience can be labelled bliss.
Bliss may be felt following an intense experience of joy but an even deeper experience of bliss arises from entering into a transcendent unity consciousness. It is a consciousness of immersive inter-connectedness or oneness with our world or the universe or the sacred, of being-in-the-world of expansive identity beyond the narrow confines of our normal personality self.
In this state of bliss, which can occur during NatureConnect sessions, we experience a state of Being in which equanimity, connectedness and love are experienced in a timeless and spacious present. This state of being is what I refer to in my mantra, “I AM”. The mantra: “In Love and Joy and Harmony, I LOVE that which I AM” refers to both an aspiration of experiencing bliss and a state of Being. Essentially the deepest experience of mindful connectedness is the bliss of surrender, belonging and relationship with the Divine, the Sacredness of Nature.
So, in a nutshell, the consistent practice of mindfulness can shift your perception of reality, broaden your awareness and transform consciousness in ways that lead to unity experiences such as the bliss of I AM.