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Lions Roar : September 2010
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2010 43 mindfulness: The most Direct Path by James Baraz The BuDDha sPoke of mindfulness as the most direct way to overcome sorrow and lamenta- tion, end pain and anxiety, and realize the highest happiness. That’s quite a claim! what is so special about mindfulness? of all the fifty-two mental factors listed in Buddhist psy- chology, mindfulness possesses a unique power. it weakens the negative or unwholesome mind states that cause us suffering, such as attachment, aver- sion, and confusion, and strengthens the whole- some mind states that lead to happiness, such as kindness, generosity, and wisdom. it can even help us develop the penetrating awareness that opens the mind to full awakening. when i first learned about the transformative power of mindfulness, and experienced it for my- self, i wanted to run down the streets telling anyone who would listen, “you just have to be mindful!” i’ve since learned that there are other important strat- egies that can help when life throws us a curve— compassion and loving-kindness practices; reaching out to friends, teachers, and guides for wise coun- sel; trauma modalities where necessary. But after all these years, mindfulness still seems to me the pri- mary tool for working with life’s difficulties. mindfulness trains us to be more conscious and awake to what’s going on in our world. mindful- ness helps us respond with greater clarity and a kind heart to whatever situation we find ourselves in. it helps us to be more present for our lives. however, as any student of Buddhism will tell you, mindfulness takes practice. it’s one thing to have the intention to be present. it’s quite another to actually do it. That’s why formal mindfulness How to Meditate Buddhist teachers from the Insight, Zen, and Tibetan traditions teach us sitting meditation, the foundation of all Buddhist practice.