It took some time for me to understand that the mindfulness is a journey. Born in Sri Lanka, I was exposed to Buddhism at a very early stage of life. I visited a monastery in thick jungle at the age of 9 yrs, accompanied by my uncle who was a devoted meditator. Sitting for an hour long meditation was my aspiration back then, yet I could not sit for more than five minutes in one meditation posture. It took years to improve my posture.
My guru designed a goal, when he has recognised I was committed to serious meditation (my regular visits to see him, despite my busy life in he material world, probably convinced him). After a few years I was getting closer to the goal. I had my first ever long retreat sitting eight days in a silent monastery, under the guidance of my guru. Towards the end I reached the goal, reaching the status of ‘samadhi’, as a gateway to more advanced meditation or ‘vipassana‘ (that was truly exciting).
“Great, you have reached the beach. Now you are beginning to swim”. That was the wisdom from my guru, the monastic monk who has mostly lived alone in a forest in southern Sri Lanka, living on one meal a day received from alms round to nearby villages.
“Meditation is like swimming in the ocean. The more you swim the more you discover the depth”.
At that stage I could not recognise the difference between the ‘beach’ and ‘ocean’. On reflection, now I recognise that, as our human life the mindfulness journey evolves though stages, such as baby, child, teenager, adult, and super adult (I have probably been given a new definition :).
At the baby stage mindfulness needs a lot of attention & care (i.e. the mind is all over the place). Then at the child stage we begin to get into grips of various forces working in and around our mind. Teen stage is where we explore deeper and come to recognise the control leavers of the mind. Then at the adult stage we learn to skilfully use these levers and drive our mind into appropriate directions. Super adult is the stage where we master mindfulness to get the best out of the human mind, like a skilful driver who rides his car on any type of road under any weather condition and reach the destination.
How long one would take to pass these stages? During various retreats I noticed some meditators take as short as 3-5 days to pass through from baby stage to teen stage, though it took many years for me initially.
How do we know which stage we are in? Motivation and inner-peace are two indicators with which I used to recognise this with. With each passing stage we tend to notice the improvement in our peacefulness of mind (inner-peace). Intensity of inner-peace increases with every advancing stage. So does the motivation. We need to make an extra effort to maintain motivation at the baby stage of mindfulness. As we progress self motivation becomes the driver.
When it reaches this stage of self-motivation, it driving power is amazing. I travelled around the world, to over 60 countries, wearing different professional career hats. Mindfulness (meditation) has become a daily routine despite this busy life. At times I continued meditation practice while waiting in an airport transit lounge, or else sitting inside a fast moving car (not driving). In terms of inner-peace, mindfulness practice brings peace, happiness, efficiency, productivity, greater than expected outcomes.
I still travel this journey, and now I am convinced I have a great amount to share. What can I do for you?