Mindfulness: Breath by Breath: The Liberating Practice of Insight Meditation

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Moon, India: Photograph by Dhurjati Chatterjee; National Geographic
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Mindfulness is often likened to a mirror; it simply reflects what is there.
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It is not a process of thinking; it is preconceptual, before thought.
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One can be mindful of thought.
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There is all the difference in the world between thinking and knowing that thought is happening, as thoughts chase each other through the mind and the process is mirrored back to us.
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The only time that mindfulness can happen is in the present moment; if you are thinking of the past, that is memory.
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It is possible to be mindful of memory, of course, but such mindfulness can only happen in the present.
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Mindfulness is unbiased.
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It is not for or against anything, just like a mirror, which does not judge what it reflects.
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Mindfulness has no goal other than the seeing itself.
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It doesn’t try to add to what’s happening or subtract from it, to improve it in any way.
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It isn’t detached, like a person standing on a hill far away from an experience, observing it with binoculars.
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It is a form of participation—you are fully living out your life, but you are awake in the midst of it—and it is not limited to the meditation hall.
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It can be used on a simple process like the breathing, or on highly charged and unpleasant emotions like fear or loneliness.
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