The central principle of mindfulness is to look at things without judgment. As applied to depression, this means to just look at the various physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects as if you were just an outside observer. Adherents of mindfulness often speak of this as “The Watcher.” It is a wonderful practice that increases awareness of what is really happening.
Tom Wootton is CEO of Bipolar Advantage. Along with experts in complementary fields, including doctors teaching the next generation of therapists, their mission is to help people with mental conditions shift their thinking and behavior so that they can lead extraordinary lives. Tom is the author of three books: The Bipolar Advantage, The Depression Advantage, and Bipolar In Order: Looking At Depression, Mania, Hallucination, And Delusion From The Other Side.
Editor: Muhammad Talha
Unfortunately, many claim that mindfulness leads to happiness. This breaks with the whole concept of looking at it without judgment. Mindfulness practiced properly does not lead to happiness; it leads to a greater awareness of whatever you are experiencing. If you are mindful of your depression, for instance, you will experience depression more clearly and more intensely.
If you look at depression as “The Watcher,” you will become less attached to it and the need to make it go away. This leads to becoming content with what is, instead of wanting things to change. Practiced properly, mindfulness leads to bliss, not happiness.
Mindfulness and the yoga techniques it was based on were developed as a way to experience bliss. It is a complete misunderstanding of what bliss means that the result of mindfulness is called happiness. Happiness is the opposite of sadness. It is part of the duality of delusion that makes us judge one thing better than another. Such judgment is the opposite of mindfulness; it is wanting things to change instead of accepting them as they are.
Bliss is common throughout the world, but goes by many names: Samadhi, Nirvana, Ecstasy, and Rapture are just a few of them. I prefer Equanimity because it captures the idea that we can experience it in all states. Some like to call it Contentment, since it can be experienced in times of great pain.
Every moment of our lives is an opportunity to be in bliss, but we avoid those with the most potential because we think that the difficult experiences need to be removed first. We are closer to experiencing bliss during the difficult times because they challenge us to break from our attachment to happiness. As bliss is beyond the duality of happy-sad, gain-loss, pleasure-displeasure, and even health-illness; we cannot truly know bliss until we see it in our pain. Once we find bliss in pain, we find it everywhere. Mindfulness can help you to find it.