The following excerpt is taken from an interview with Dr. Alp Arat of the British Sociological Association. It provides my pragmatic account of Mindfulness practice:
Dr. Arat: In your own words, please could you explain what Mindfulness is, how it works, and why you’re interested in it?
Matthew Krasner: Well, there are many definitions for Mindfulness. For me it is a practice of directing one’s attention to sensations available in the present moment, such as one’s breathing, the feelings emanating from one’s body, sounds, or guided instructions (a voice). Through the practice, inevitably we run up against the film-reel of our mind, or perhaps it’s better likened to a set of hyperlinks.
In any case, we face our thought-patterns, which don’t seem to stop and are very tempting to feed. That’s our normal condition. Through Mindfulness, we’re simply given a structure where we can face that condition, notice it, but choose not to feed it. Rather, we point our attention to more primary and fundamental aspects of our living: our breath, the present environment, our body, our being. Nothing really happens in Mindfulness practice, which is an obstacle for young practitioners—they expect something to “happen”. But the point is that something is always happening now, and the expectation that something must happen actually blocks us from experiencing it. So Mindfulness is like a process of counterpoint to the way our mind, or really our ego, likes to function.
The ego grasps onto things, always asserting its existence. While in Mindfulness, we recognize that something already exists before the ego, so we must loosen our grip to simply recognize it.