Describing the practice of meditation rapidly becomes paradoxical, pseudo-profound and fogged in a mysteriousness that’s hard to clear. It’s inevitable when the mind looks at itself, when the act of looking is itself part of what is looked at.
This is why there’s no substitute for actual practice. It’s rather like spending hours poring over trail maps versus the reality of walking the trails; studying though useful cannot be a replacement.
Mindful meditation stays fluid, flexible, remains lighthearted, yields sometimes to distraction. To be aware of not being aware may be the best consciousness can do at that moment, if “best” has any meaning here.
A meta awareness of the moment to moment quality of awareness can be compared to theatrical irony in that it’s a larger knowledge that contains a smaller one. The practice of awareness exists on different levels and itself requires awareness.
Mindful meditation is not an end product of careful ceremony or stiff attitude but just that direction toward the more objective state of being. If distraction resolves into the here and now even just a little that is mindfulness, a transition and not an ending.
We could say that meditation is the observation of the failure to meditate but as an ongoing process with no end result mindful meditation is denied failure just as much as success.
Just as healthcare is concerned with illness mindfulness is the study of its absence; the chaotic eddies of the mind’s distraction and confusion. Without the chaos they’d be no word or need for mindfulness.
Our usual subjective frame of thinking is really an incomplete awareness because to be fully here and now is to be free of the personal. There is a cost to the preference for subjectivity. We find this more obvious during the more direct if narrow perceptions of a crisis when we’re forced to jettison our usual persona* and are forced to act more efficiently, engaging fully and urgently without intermediaries with a demanding situation. This is a preview of pure being.
We can look out from a past self or look through oneself into a present. This window on the world is pure being.
We have no choice but to feel from the inside but it’s possible to observe from the outside, the subjective being contained within the objective. It may not be obvious but self-awareness and the awareness of others amounts to the same thing; the objective state of being contains both.
Self-image is gratifying in its creation but painful in its inevitable dissolution. In other words it only defers pain; to socially compete or to accept flattery is ultimately to suffer. Experiment and see that in the here and now the mind is immune to both flattery and hurt.
If there ever was a true religion then objectivity would be it; it’s a guiding principle because with it each of our approximations to reality will be successively closer to the truth.
* Amusingly “persona” comes from the ancient Greek word for the masks worn during a play.