Fundamentals of the Dharma: Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the ability to generate attention toward oneself or an outside object. It is a step toward more conscious living. But mindfulness is coming from our exertion of will; that is, we are making ourselves mindful. When we relax our efforts, mindfulness goes away. As long as we are in control we will continue to believe in the truth of separation and will not see the end of the assumption of self. This is the spiritual fix we are in: either we let go of mindfulness into effortless awareness, or we stay bound to the person who is making herself conscious and thereby limit freedom.
For Your Contemplation
We confuse awareness with thinking. Begin to notice the qualitative difference when you are mindful and when you are lost in thought. Notice the quieter you become, the more awareness is accessible, and the less the sense of self intrudes. The sense of you obstructs awareness and depends upon thought for its existence. Awareness flourishes as a result of seeing the limitations of thought and releasing your need to carry yourself around. Study this dynamic this week. Watch what happens to your awareness/mindfulness when you are reactive and full of thought. Watch what happens to the sense of you when you are quiet and your senses are alive.