The depth and multilayers of mindfulness transcend the notion of just being present. Anyone can pay attention in the present moment, but the level of awareness varies from person to person.
There’s no way of knowing how present someone is by just observing them, although you can certainly tell a distracted or inattentive person from someone who isn’t. But what determines how present we truly are is how present we are with ourselves, and only we can know that by how aware we are of our own present-moment awareness.
Awareness is multilayered
Now, that may sound like a mind game, or a play on what awareness really means. Awareness is multilayered—there are different levels of perception or understanding. For example, two people looking at the same painting will have different perceptions. One person might see only some of the details, or what is most obvious in the painting may be seen by one person, while someone else sees much more.
There might be shapes or symbols in a painting that are more hidden, or less visible to the immediate eye, which take more time and focus to see. The same can be said about mindfulness, and how aware a person is in the moment—especially of themselves.
Mindfulness, at its best, keeps us honest with ourselves, and doesn’t allow for any hiding or self-deception. But how do we know we’re being fully honest with ourselves? That depends on how truthful you are in any given moment, and what you may or may not want to bring to the foreground of your awareness—your fears, insecurities, habits, tendencies, proclivities, addictions or anything else you might not want to focus on.
If you choose not to focus on certain areas, present-moment awareness becomes selective and is only used when it’s easy, convenient or comfortable.
That is part-time mindfulness, which is a watered-down version of awareness. If this is true, we should say we are aspiring to be more mindful, especially of ourselves, and acknowledge that mindfulness is a process of becoming more aware of everything, including what we’d prefer not to look at.
Mindfulness is a journey, not a destination
As with the quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Life is a journey, not a destination,” the same can be said about mindfulness. If we look at being more present and honest as a moment-by-moment practice, then we can honour the journey of awakening, and make a concerted effort to be real and truthful with ourselves, even if it’s uncomfortable.
Mindfulness is being in the present moment with total awareness, and that includes having an awareness of whatever it is we’re uncomfortable with focusing on. Simply being aware of our discomfort is honest, and if we are totally present with it, we can learn more about ourselves—and move through our discomfort or pain with additional knowledge about who we are—which is necessary to grow and evolve.
By being present in the moment, we accept whatever it gives or shows us with love and non-judgment, because we know that it will help us become the best version of ourselves.
If you’re truly interested in getting to the core of who you are, mindfulness is the path that will take you there. There may be some discomfort with being brutally honest about what you would like to change about yourself, but by being fully present and not escaping the moment, you will be able to meet yourself in a whole new way—a different way than you’ve ever met yourself before.
Being honest with ourselves
Mindfulness not only keeps us honest with ourselves, but it makes us stronger and less afraid to meet all aspects of who we are. Choosing to be fully present helps us face what we have wanted to keep hidden about ourselves, because we are ready to do so. We choose to take a really close look at what we’ve shied away from or buried for a long time.
Mindfulness is like saying, “I’m here to face—all of myself—and love myself in the process.” No matter what you discover, you can also say, “I accept myself with love and non-judgment, and know that by being present, honest and unafraid, I will learn to love and accept myself even more.”
«RELATED READ» WHEREVER YOU ARE: Memories of my intro to mindfulness»