❝Sit, and know you are sitting...Breathe, and know you are breathing.❞ -Joseph Goldstein
I'm sitting on my couch listening to a guided meditation by Joseph Goldstein. I've been meditating for over five years now, so I'm pretty familiar with mindfulness meditation. Mr. Goldstein's approach is slightly different from what I'm used to.
Mindfulness meditation, at its core, is about paying very close attention to the contents of consciousness. That includes sounds, feelings, thoughts, emotions, and even bodily sensations. People who are advanced are able to feel the raw sensations of, say, anger as patterns of energy in their bodies.
The meditation teachers on the apps and videos that I've used so far have done a pretty good job teaching me this. In the earlier stages of learning, I was taught to pay careful attention to what it feels like to breathe. Later, the lessons turned to paying careful attention to what it feels like to sit, to feel what my body feels like while it's resting in space.
Joseph Goldstein has a way of teaching this that I have not heard before. Instead of instructing me to pay close attention to my breath, he simply said to breathe, and know that I'm breathing. Instead of telling me to pay attention to the sensations of sitting, he instructed me to sit, and know that I'm sitting.
This distinction made a lot of sense to me. It taught me that to live mindfully, it's important to understand that whatever we do, know that we're doing it.
This insight can apply to our finances.
Mindfulness meditation is simply practice for living mindfully. It trains our awareness, attention, and concentration. The word mindfulness tends to be used in many ways lately, so its meaning can be all over the board. It's helpful to think about it in the following way: the opposite of being mindful is being mindless.
To demonstrate this, ask yourself what you're thinking about right now. Most of us live our lives talking to ourselves. In fact, if we had a friend following us around that talked to us as much as we talk to ourselves, we would hate that person. Yet, we do it all the time. We think without knowing what we're thinking; we're constantly lost in thought.
Mindfulness helps break that pattern. There's nothing wrong with thinking; thinking is necessary. The problem is when we think without knowing that we're thinking.