Christopher André’s Looking at Mindfulness is a primer of twenty-five lessons on mindfulness. With pictures to supplement the text the author explained how people could be aware of their bodies and environment and not be like robots. Advice is given concerning how to turn off and adjust to the multiple stimuli of film, television, radio, and the Internet. These media only corrupt minds and cause people to be unable to concentrate on what really matters most in life.
By breathing and being in silence people will become aware of their true selves and savor the precious moments of their lives. By being still and reflective they will come alive. Such practice they should make a part of their daily lives. The benefits of these meditations will give them a sense of purpose, release their stress, and help people live compassionately.
But these objectives have to be practiced consistently. It’s true they could begin at any time in one’s life, whether it’s just waking up in the morning, preparing for work, at the job during the day, at home at night, or before going to bed. So when people are faced with difficulties like having problems at work, conflicts, marital problems, are suffering, or under stress, being mindful could definitely bring release and ease their pain.
However mindfulness isn’t a panacea for every problem. It will only allow a practitioner to approach the good and bad experiences of life realistically. They will be able to entertain and deal with the conflicting realities of their problems. With breathing and being still they will be able to understand and minimize these conflicts. It isn’t guaranteed that people will eventually feel better, but they will be better able to understand their problems. For André wrote that hurtful situations might last only for a time with mindful practice. These teachings are supplemented with quotes from psychologists, psycho-analysts, and religious thinkers from the Christian and Buddhist traditions.
Mindfulness is nonconceptual awareness. Another English term for sati is “bare attention.” It is not thinking. It does not get involved with thought or concepts. It does not get hung up on ideas or opinions or memories. It just looks. Mindfulness registers experiences, but it does not compare them. It does not label them or categorize them. It just observes everything as if it was occurring for the first time. It is not analysis that is based on reflection and memory. It is, rather, the direct and immediate experiencing of whatever is happening, without the medium of thought. It comes before thought in the perceptual process.
Henepola Gunaratana, Mindfulness in Plain English (2011), p. 134