Mindful awareness is the source of personal spiritual leadership. As such, it allows an individual to explore the often crippling emotional programs for happiness that are developed in early childhood based on needs for survival, security, affection, esteem, power, and control. It also requires exploring the over attachment or over identification with any particular group or culture to which one belongs. Mindfulness is tough work and individuals will seldom exert the effort to fundamentally change their life’s vision and personal values unless they are forced to do so by some precipitating event. The “bottom line” is that the motivation to seek mindful awareness will not emerge until the pain of change is less than the pain of staying the same.
Mindful awareness is a process of waking up and becoming the “Watcher”; of being present with the breath and then a forgetting, which is your true essence or Being. One cannot see clearly nor have an accurate view of reality if their emotional programs for happiness and cultural conditioning are clouding their awareness. It is a mindful practice, like meditation, that cultivates mindful awareness, which allows us to let go and stay centered in the midst of change. Letting go does not mean not caring about things, rather it means caring for them in a flexible and wise way in the realization that gain and loss, praise and blame, pain and pleasure are all part of the dance of life. We are no longer fearful of painful experiences or run away from them, or grasp desperately for pleasant experiences hoping that somehow by holding onto them they will last.
Mindful awareness is also the source of the realization that our heart has the capacity to be present for it all, that we can live more fully and freely right where we are and find composure as everything, both good and bad, manifests in the present and then passes away. We learn to listen with full awareness to all our feelings and, through awareness of all the pleasant, neutral, and unpleasant aspects of experience, we can learn not to fear pain or grasp for pleasure. Becoming attached to things as they are or pushing things away we do not like leads to further suffering because this does not stop them from changing. Through mindfulness, it quickly becomes clear that fear of pain and the quest for pleasure does not lead to peace or happiness; it causes us to suffer.
Through mindfulness, we alleviate suffering and discover a natural and non-judgmental awareness of our bodies and feelings. We begin to see and trust the world the way it is and learn to trust impermanence as a spiritual law of life. And in the midst of it all we begin to see how we can relate to all of it with compassion, kindness and wisdom. We begin to develop a vision of love and service to others based on a universally applicable ethical system of altruistic values.