Mindfulness is a mental formation. Everyone has a seed of mindfulness. And if we practice diligently, and then the grain, and then the seed of mindfulness in us will grow bigger and bigger. And anytime we need that energy of mindfulness, we just touch it and we have plenty of it in order to make use. And we know that mindfulness has the power, has the capacity to allow us to know what is going on, going on in our body, going on in our feelings, going on in our mind, and going on in the world.
Mindfulness is one of 51 mental formations and is categorized as 5 Particulars. And we can touch the seed of mindfulness through conscious breathing or walking. The capacity of mindfulness is to recognize, embrace, look deeply, understand and transform the body and mind.
So, effortlessness is the nature of the practice. You don't strive, you don't fight, you do not impose the practice on yourself, you do not suffer because of the practice. You just enjoy breathing in, you just enjoy making a step. And when your breathing is peaceful, deep, harmonious, and then your body will profit from it, your body will become lighter, more peaceful, and also your feelings will be more peaceful. In our daily life, very often, our body is there but our mind is elsewhere. And in these moments we are not truly alive. According to this practice, you need only to breathe in mindfully and you ride on your in-breath and go home in just one, two, three seconds. And when your mind is with your body, you are well established in the here and the now, and you can touch the wonders of life inside and around for your nourishment and healing.
Effortlessness, or Aimlessness means that we are already what we are looking for, namely awareness (non-separate self). All we need is to revive awareness through conscious breathing or walking. If we just enjoy breathing or walking without thinking, awareness will revive. The first one in-breath is enough to awaken from forgetfulness.
Usually people don't like to go home to themselves and get in touch with the suffering inside. They are afraid of being overwhelmed by the suffering inside. So, their usual way is to try to run away from their own suffering. They try to cover up the suffering inside, their loneliness, their fear, their anger and their despair. So, for a teacher, for a school teacher, the first thing to do is to go home to himself or herself. The way out is in. Go back to oneself and take care of oneself. Learning how to generate a feeling of joy, learning how to generate a feeling of happiness, learning how to handle a painful feeling, a painful emotion. Listening to the suffering, allow understanding and compassion to be born and suffer less. This is the first step. And he or she has to do that. That is the first step.
To go home to oneself, or to go back to oneself means to revive awareness (non-separate self, true self). If awareness revives, everything will be alright automatically. "The way out is in." means that if we really want to be freed from sufferings, we need to understand the root cause.
We can speak about the goodness of the suffering. If we know how to embrace suffering, to hold it tenderly, to look deeply into it, and then we will be able to generate the energy of compassion and understanding which are the foundation of true happiness. It's like when you grow lotus flowers, you need the mud. Lotus flowers can not grow on marble. Without the mud, you can not grow a lotus. The same thing is true with happiness and suffering. A good practitioner knows how to make good use of suffering in order to grow happiness.
This is called the art of suffering. We should not run away from suffering. Suffering is precious because it can be transformed into happiness. Happiness is made of suffering. Without suffering, happiness is not possible. Happiness and suffering are two sides of the same coin. So, suffering is no other than happiness.
Thích Nhất Hạnh