Mindfulness is not about being present for the sake of being present. It’s about being present for the sake of understanding reality.
As mindfulness becomes mainstream, it gets further reduced to “just be present” and “live in the moment.”
For many, that’s enough of a selling point. People feel like they’re living their lives on automatic pilot, caught in the future and the past, and the idea of being present is highly compelling.
But these are often the same people that drop mindfulness quickly. Because being present makes sense for when things are good in our lives, but it stops making sense for when things are not so good. Who wants to live in the moment when it’s full of pain, stress, and grief? We want to get OUT of those moments.
Fortunately, there’s more to mindfulness than “live in the moment.” Its function is to help you find peace and groundedness in the present moment in all of its glory and catastrophe. It helps us recognize that there is only so much manipulation we can do to our experience before we must learn to find peace with it. There’s only so much fighting of your thoughts, before you must learn to be with them. You can only suppress an uncomfortable emotion for so long before you start numbing yourself to other parts of your life. You can only deny the reality of your stress and overwhelm for so long until you need to face it and learn what’s actually causing it.
Mindfulness is a method of kind-hearted discernment. It helps you see where you’re pushing and when you might need to let be. It helps you see what you’re gripping onto when you might need to let go. It helps you learn to inhabit moments of uncertainty, doubt and chaos without completely freaking out.
It’s not about being present. It was never about being present. It’s about the wisdom that can only be found IN the present moment, because that’s where this whole miracle of life and our relationship to it is happening.