Be Aware Intelligently
Mindfulness meditation is more than just observing things with a receptive mind. You cannot practise it blindly, mechanically, without thinking. You have to use both knowledge and intelligence to bring your practice to life.
The main tools you need to be aware intelligently are:
the right information and a clear understanding of the practice,
the right motivation or interest, and
the right thinking, reflection, or inquiry.
Right information and clear understanding of the practice is what you gain from reading relevant texts and from Dhamma discussions. The right motivation or interest is based on clearly knowing why you are practising here and now. Have you ever asked yourself questions like: “Why do I want to meditate?” “What do I expect to gain?” “Do I understand what meditation means?” Right motivation and interest will grow out of your answers to these questions. Right information and right motivation will have a strong influence on the way you think or reflect when practising. They enable you to ask intelligent questions at the right moment.
Right thinking, reflection, or inquiry is thinking that helps you to practise correctly. If, as a beginner, you are faced with a particular situation in your practice, you should first reflect on what the instructions on dealing with such a situation are, and then try to apply them. If it is not clear to you what is going on, you could also ask yourself questions such as: “What is my attitude?” “Which defilement am I dealing with?” However, make sure you do not think or reflect too much, especially if you are a beginner; your mind might wander off. Such questions or thoughts should only serve to heighten your interest.
Even if you have the right information, the right motivation and made the right reflections you could still make mistakes. Recognizing mistakes is an important aspect of being aware intelligently. We all make mistakes; it is natural to do so. If you find you have made a mistake, accept and acknowledge it; try to learn from it.
As your mindfulness becomes more and more continuous, your interest in the practice will grow. Being aware intelligently will help you to deepen your practice, to come to new understandings. Ultimately, it will help you to fulfil the objective of mindfulness meditation: vipassanā insights.
Mindfulness meditation is a learning process; use your awareness intelligently!