Musings on Mindfulness 1- presence as a precondition

One of the ways to be more mindful in daily living is to tune in to your senses- sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell. With respect to sight, that means looking at the world and paying attention to things like color, texture, shape, size, luminosity (how much it gives off light or reflects light). I started looking at things and trying to identify color and realized that I didn’t have the vocabulary to describe colors that were not pure hues. For example, I looked at a curtain and identified that it was green, but off-green. Basic color theory actually has words for impure hues. a pure hue that has been mixed with white is called a tint. Here, then, the curtains were a tint of green. Off-green mixed with black is called a shade. And off-green mixed with black and white to make grey is called a tone. The same terminology applies to all colors.

With this new vocabulary at your disposal, it makes the identification of colors in your environment more interesting. This has helped me better stay in the present moment, which is a major element of mindfulness. Note, however, that being in the present moment, while a necessary condition for mindfulness, does not amount to mindfulness by itself. There are more steps. More necessary conditions. According to Psychology today, “Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention to the present. This state is described as observing one’s thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad.” I suppose, then, that being mindful of the green curtain would not just be, among other things, identifying it is a tint of green, about six feet in length, rectangular in shape, and moderately luminous. It would also require not passing judgment on the thoughts that arose in relation to my viewing of the green curtain. For instance, that it is old, that it needs to be washed, that it doesn’t look good with the room etc.

Figuring out how to be nonjudgmental is the subject of later postings. In my opinion, it is a far more complicated aspect of mindfulness.

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