There is a paradigm shift taking place in mindfulness, where we are shifting from experiencing short glimpses of a clear and calm mind, to a continuous experience of our selfless awareness. The aim is to experience an awakening, a permanent shift that brings forward the natural awareness in our mind.
Mindfulness is used to clear and calm down the body-mind, by focusing the attention in different ways. The stress free, selfless state can be stabilized, so that we do not need to look for it time and time again. This can be achieved by awakening and further consecutive awakenings.
The concept of awakening is a central theme in Buddhist meditation practice. The Buddhist tradition is based on realizing that the experience of having a solid self, is a mere illusion. This nondualism, or selflessness, is the foundation of secular mindfulness. It forms the core in the MBSR-method created by John Kabat-Zinn. Many other sources, such as Eckhart Tolle, have also spoken openly about awakening.“
“MBSR is really meant to be from the non-dual perspective, but grounded in real people and real life. And I think a lot of MBSR teachers do not realise that, because the people who are teaching them do not emphasise non-duality.”
(Source: Husgafvel, 2019, s.302)
What is Awakening?
The existential pain many people experience lies behind thoughts such as “Who am I?”, “Why do I feel like this?”, “What is existence?”.
We experience existential pain because we believe we have a self. The illusion of having a self and self-based thinking causes us pain.
This I-character is only an illusion in our mind, like a mirage in the desert. Our pain stems from us reacting to other people and their behaviour, through the experience of us having a self. The experience of a self is like a skewed artificial filter. As we react to situations and circumstances, it is our experienced self that does it, regardless whether it is a positive or a negative experience, regardless whether it is pleasant and useful or unpleasant and useless. People identify themselves very strongly through the experience of having a self.
By awakening, we see through the illusion and experience our mind which is free from selfing, i.e. we experience the true nature of our mind. This is a permanent shift and through further consecutive awakening experiences self-based thinking and self-based feeling diminish. What is left when the basis of the experienced self starts to crumble; when the wants the self is formed of disappear; when the anxiety the self is formed of disappears; when the fears the self is formed of disappear? What you have left is a state, free of a self, a true experience of the positivity of life. This is what Jon Kabat-Zinn refers to when he talks about non-dualism. It is the uncovering of our real and genuine being.