- The 7th Path: Right Mindfulness
By Joe Giordano
Right mindfulness, for me, is one of the key paths to Seeing the World With New Eyes™. It provides us with a way to see ourselves differently so that we can begin to change our own behaviors and in so doing, help others do the same. Seeing the world with new eyes is really about seeing and processing what is around us using a pure approach, and filtering out the noise that may cloud our very perception of what we are observing.
According to TheBigView.com, the Right Mindfulness path “is the controlled and perfected faculty of cognition. It is the mental ability to see things as they are, with clear consciousness.”
Typically, our own cognitive processes – – thinking and reflection – – immediately start with an impression that is triggered by our own perceptions, which are driven by our own past experiences, which actually make up the way we think, act and behave in this moment. These experiences begin to stack one upon another and actually create the way we act, react, and interact with our own world.
Based on our past, the way we think and reflect turns perceptions and impressions of our world into something we can understand. We are essentially creating our own map; our own understanding of what is happening at this moment based on all the data that we have collected over time. We then interpret this data, organize and reorganize it in relation to other thoughts and experiences by filtering the data (new and old), so that it fits into our predetermined maps of our own experiences. At times, we even dismiss key information (what we are observing, feeling, etc.) that does not fit with how we have assembled that moment in our mind. The mind then gives us a conceptualized view, joining thoughts into theories, and weaving those theories into complex interpretative schemes that we then create our own definitions of what is happening. This is a naturally occurring cognitive process that two Yale psychologists, Davidson and Sternberg, studied extensively. They surmised that we look at our surroundings and do one of three things with it:
1. Selective encoding: When a person sees in a stimulus one or more features not previously obvious.
2. Selective comparison: When one suddenly discovers a non-obvious relationship between new information and information acquired in the past.
3. Selective combination: When one puts together elements of a problem in a way that had previously not been obvious.
All this happens only half consciously, and as a result we often see things in an obscured way and at the same time, that obscured way is our reality in that moment. TheBigView.com says that the “Right mindfulness is anchored in clear perception and penetrates impressions without getting carried away. Right mindfulness enables us to be aware of the process of conceptualization in a way that we actively observe and control the way our thoughts travel.” Having the right mindfulness helps us bring our cognitive processes fully into consciousness, so we are not just processing based on what we know and have experienced, but are welcoming new data and bringing that into the fold as well.
Buddha accounted for this as the four foundations of mindfulness:
1. Contemplation of the body—be mindful of where you are; your presence in any moment will impact your thoughts.
2. Contemplation of feeling (repulsive, attractive, or neutral)—be mindful of your thoughts and emotions as that will help you bring in new data to your cognitive processes.
3. Contemplation of the state of mind—be mindful of your own state having an impact on your thoughts and understanding that our own internal climate has an impact on our actions and reactions.
4. Contemplation of the phenomena—be mindful of the images, visions, feelings, and emotions that we compound, construct or fabricate to suit a particular purpose, which is most likely providing a layer of protection for ourselves.
The next time you are in team setting charged with solving complex issues, remember to immerse yourself into the needs of others—be available to their needs, wants, and beliefs about the problems and solutions as powerfully as you are to your own. Doing something for others has the same emotional and physical impact on us as receiving gifts. Practice the art of giving accolades and credit to others twice as much than you receive and you will be in the Right Mindfulness.
See earlier articles in this series