As we learn how to stabilize our paying attention and how to allow objects in the field of awareness to become more vivid—to see them with greater clarity, to drop beneath the surface of appearances—we are actually learning how to inhabit and how to rest in this capacity for awareness that is already ours. It can accompany us moment by moment by moment as we journey through our lives as they unfold through thick and thin. Each one of us can learn to rely on that awareness, on the power of mindfulness, to live our lives as if how we live them in the only moment we are ever alive really matters. As you will find out more and more through continued practice, it does matter.

We are very much in the habit of thinking of ourselves in small, contracted ways—and of identifying with the content of our thoughts, emotions, and the narrative we build about ourselves—based on how much we like or dislike what is happening to us. This is our default mode. The power of mindfulness is the power to examine those self-identifications and their consequences and the power to examine the views and perspectives we adopt so reflexively and automatically and then proceed to think are us. The power of mindfulness lies in paying attention in a different, larger way to the actuality of life unfolding moment by moment by moment. It allows us to shift from mindlessness to mindfulness.

In the end, the healing and transformative power of mindfulness lies in paying attention to the miracle and beauty of our very being and in the expanded possibilities for being, knowing, and doing within a life that is lived and met and held in awareness and deep kindness in each unfolding moment. So as you continue with the cultivation of mindfulness in your life, may you, as the Navajo blessing goes, "walk in beauty."

And may you realize that you already do

Excerpted from Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment—and Your Life. By Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD. Copyright © 2012 Jon Kabat-Zinn. Published by Sounds True.