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Mindfulness is a state of attentive awareness, in which we can free ourselves from illusion and see reality with true clarity and understanding. Buddhism says it is key to the path of Enlightenment (the noble eightfold path).

 

The reason why mindfulness is so important is based on the concept that although the reality we perceive may seem objective, it is entirely subjective, in other words, everything we perceive is a product of our mind.

We look at a tree and think "this is a tree", which seems like an objective thought but there's really nothing objective about the existence of the tree. The process starts when our eyes see the tree. Then, signals travel from the eyes to our brain. And finally, our brain compares those signals against its own concept of a tree and concludes "this is a tree". So the process of seeing a tree is entirely mental. Does the tree then exist outside of our mind? And if so, how can we prove that, who is to say that we are not in a lab somewhere that is providing scenarios for our minds? After all, when we are dreaming it certainly seems like a real experience, right?

 

So mindfulness is really about living in an objective reality as much as we can, rather than being involved in our own thoughts and emotions that bring us deeper into illusion. Its practices usually cultivate being fully present in the moment (e.g. meditation), on initial states that involves awareness of the physical reality, then moving on to more subtle realities, and ultimately realizing the oneness of all things.