We are going to focus on mantra, mindfulness, how they interact, and how their interaction applies to your meditation, life and happiness. Meditation is mainly about attitude, not technique. You should know about this because human nature has a flaw, and you may not be aware of this problem.

Short and simple, meditation means awareness. Mindfulness, mantra, sentience... They are inseparable aspects of consciousness and the wide spectrum of awareness - meditation. Learning meditation therefore equals learning about your consciousness and developing a keen awareness of who you are and how you're doing.

But what is a mantra and what is mindfulness?

Within the wide spectrum of awareness, mantra is concentrated, attached, and narrow focus.It can be a word, phrase, sound, thought, any point of focus that draws your attention.

Mindfulness encompasses the points of focus/mantras and the space between them. In other words, only when you decide to follow a thought or any other point of focus/mantra will there be change. Mindfulness gives you stability and lets you experience change (internal and external) without judging or attaching yourself to it. More than anything, meditation is about the accepting, smart mindful attitude.

Let's now illustrate and compare mindfulness to mantra and see how they interact in a sunny beach analogy...

So, within the wide spectrum of awareness, mantra is the concentrated, attached, and narrow focus. Standing on a beach, extremely concentrated, mantra is the zoomed-in, CLOSE-UP view of a grain of sand. Mindfulness is the w-i-d-e screen, the detached focus. In practice it's also a patient, non-judgmental attitude.

If mantra is the close-up of a grain of sand, mindfulness is the entire beach. Mindfully zooming out now, there are countless grains of sand, even rolling waves, an ocean -- A HUGE picture! Mindfully detached from any particular aspect of this picture yet fascinated by it, zooming in and out... The ocean seems to breathe, waves come and go, pulling out and returning sand to the beach... A pelican dives to catch a fish... Two children make a sand castle, a wave demolishes it... They cry and the mother comes running, scared first then she laughs with relief... Three teens turn to see what she is laughing at, then return to their game of Frisbee...

You get my point, right?

The mindful, large perspective shows how interconnected the "close-up shots" (mantras) of the huge picture are. How beautiful they are apart and especially together. Mindfulness and mantra interact in a dynamic, fluid manner. The person always learning to meditate is able to move freely along the spectrum of awareness and freely observe and feel his world. This freedom goes far beyond concepts, boxing in and dividing up the experience of real-time life. Detached mindfulness brings you closer to nature and life, not farther away from it. This is healthy and relaxing.

On the other hand, getting stuck on rigid goals, focusing on things to come, money, narrow-minded beliefs - attached, narrow concentration - are stressful approaches to living. Yet it's an all too common thing that we tend to do. Properly learning meditation, we need to be able to detach ourselves from this flaw...

The Human Problem: UNnatural Attachment

We can never predict exactly where we are going. Trying to control natural progress hampers our ability to adapt to an ever-changing environment. Richard Dawkins bluntly puts the human problem in this way in his great book, River out of Eden:

"Homo sapiens is a deeply purpose-ridden species."

We should be mindful of our human, purpose-ridden nature and occasionally practice detachment from goals and narrow perspectives. Rigid, stressful goal-setting can be detrimental to your progress (and happiness) because it does not open up for inevitable change and great, unexpected opportunities. It can make you stressed, frustrated, feeling like you are losing control. And it can slow you down. Time is money, as they say.

Be mindful of this problem also while you meditate. As the waves of the ocean, as your own breath, thoughts (mantras) come and go. But you do not have to attach yourself to them. Mindfulness is the smart attitude that includes every mantra and judges no one. Learning meditation the smart way, we need to be aware of both, and we should always show love and compassion for our flaws and purpose-ridden human nature. So have patience with yourself in your meditation and in your life.

After all, time is far more than just money.

Author's Bio: 

Oz Vorland is a physical therapist and long-time meditator from the Arctic region of Norway, now living in the United States. His background and meditation techniques are science-oriented, and his Web site can be found at www.meditation-techniques-for-happiness.com