Mindfulness is a Skill

After meditating and teaching mindfulness for several years I came upon the realization that mindfulness meditation is simply practicing a skill. In essence, it’s no different from practicing other skills like learning to play a musical instrument, paint, dance, play sports, be a doctor or lawyer and perform many other activities.

But, with mindfulness the skill is being in the present moment (not an easy skill to learn) and doing this with a relaxed, non-judgmental and receptive mind (even harder to learn). This makes sense given the classic story of the Buddha comparing the in-breath and out-breath to the movements of a wood turner. The Buddha explained that just as a skilled wood turner carves a piece of wood, diligently observing and adjusting the tool’s movements, a practitioner of breath meditation should carefully observe their breath as it enters and leaves the body.

The Buddha uses many skilled crafts people throughout the Pali Canon to explain many aspects of Buddhism and mindfulness.

So, what does this mean for your practice? Well, like any skill you practice it so you can use the skill when required in everyday life. Some people think that you’re supposed to be mindful all day long. But that isn’t consistent with other skills. With other skills your practice it, then forget about it until you need it. Over time, practicing any skill will seep into your life.

This is why I tell my students to do the meditation practice then forget about it until you need to practice again. This all make sense to me, since when I started a mindfulness meditation practice, I was also doing a lot of things in my life (professor, husband, father, volunteer at InsightLA and I started my company). I just meditated and forgot about it. Then, without thinking about it, the inner peace I wanted so badly just appeared in my life.

Allen Weiss is a Senior Teacher for InsightLA and the founding teacher and former Director of Mindful USC. Allen has taught mindfulness classes for the past 15 years and his Basics of Mindfulness class at InsightLA was noted ‘Best in Los Angeles’ by LA Magazine.

Join Allen online for Introduction to Mindfulness: A 5-Week Series starting:
​​​​​​​Wednesday Aug 16th, 2023 6-7pm PT and
Wednesday Nov 1st, 2023 6-7pm PT

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