The 12 Aspects of Mindfulness (old-1)

To be mindful is to look attentively, to observe carefully, and to contemplate thoughtfully. The activity of mindfulness may be described as follows:

  1. Look attentively at what is right there in front of you, physically or mentally.

    If there are many things in front of you, then start with the first thing that your attention goes to. Then look at the next thing, to which the attention goes naturally, and so on. If there are many issues you are concerned with, then start with the issue uppermost in your mind, then the next issue in the queue, and so on. Do not speculate. Do not go digging into the mind. Keep looking patiently at what comes up naturally to be scrutinized. Then observe it carefully.

  2. Observe things as they really are, not as they seem to be.

    As you look, do not expect anything, and do not assume anything. It is easy to assume what one normally expects to be there. For example, if you are looking at the profile of a person, you see only one ear, but you may believe that the person has two ears. Be mindful about what you actually see without taking anything for granted. Let your observation be completely non-judgmental.

  3. If something is missing do not imagine something else in its place. 

    If something is missing then recognize that it is missing. Do not imagine something in its place. If someone asks you a question and no answer comes up in your mind, then do not feel obliged to make up an answer. You will then end up defending an answer that was imagined and not there naturally. If something is missing then continue to observe around that area. Maybe something interesting will come up, maybe not.

  4. If something does not make sense then do not explain it away.

    If something does not make sense, then recognize that it does not make sense. Do not try to explain it away. If you encounter a failure do not just blame it on yourself or on the circumstances. Contemplate upon it until all inconsistencies (things that don’t make sense) are resolved. When faced with an inconsistency, be alert to what you might be taking for granted. At times it may take some thinking outside the box to realize what is going on.

  5. Use physical senses as well as mental sense to observe.

    We associate the idea of sense organs with eye, ear, nose, tongue, and body. However, the mind is also a sense organ, which senses the ideas, thoughts, feelings, emotions, and sensations out there. When being mindful, use all your senses to observe, including your mind.

  6. Let the mind un-stack itself. 

    Let the mind present what to look at. There should be no digging into the memory. There should be no effort to recall. Simply look at what is right there in front of the mind’s eye. Let the mind un-stack itself naturally through patient contemplation. When that is allowed, the mind will never present anything overwhelming.

  7. Experience fully what is there.  

    An important aspect of mindfulness is to fully experience what is there, such as, feelings, emotions, efforts, etc. But before you do that, make sure that your environment is safe and free of disturbance. The mind should be free of stimulants.  If the mind is racing, then simply experience that racing phenomenon without contributing to it. There should be no resistance when experiencing. Fully experience whatever the mind presents naturally.

  8. Do not suppress anything.

    It is the suppression of perceptions, memories, knowledge, visualizations, thinking, etc., that causes all difficulties in life. First make sure that your environment is safe and free of disturbances. Any medical condition should be addressed appropriately first. You then start observing whatever is there without suppressing it. If something shameful appears then you observe and experience the shame. If something threatening appears then you observe and experience the threat.  Do not pre-judge and avoid something because you consider it to be painful. By not suppressing you establish complete integrity of perception.

  9. Associate data freely.

    Let the data be presented by the mind without being interfered with. Let the mind associate that data freely on its own. Mindfulness is observing the very activity of thinking itself.

  10. Do not get hung up on name and form.

    Simply be aware that name and form may act as built-in judgment of what is there. Your task is to see things as they are. There should be no effort to judge by deliberately supplying name and form to what is there.

  11. Contemplate thoughtfully.

    Let non-judgmental observation provide accurate input. Let free association provide thoughtful contemplation.

  12. Let it all be effortless.

    Any effort would come into play only when any of the above points are violated.


You may practice mindfulness by doing the exercises at

Training in Mindfulness


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  • Kevin Osborne  On September 18, 2012 at 5:57 PM

    Good God. I’m glad you aren’t a golf instructor.


    • vinaire  On September 18, 2012 at 6:44 PM

      Ha ha! Do you need some help with golf?



  • Anil Katoch  On September 18, 2012 at 8:33 PM

    That is beautiful dimension you bring out in your post – loved it and will be mindful of it. Wud the way one is “mindful” be different if you are ‘right’ or ‘left’ brain dominant?
    ….. Anil Katoch


    • vinaire  On September 18, 2012 at 9:31 PM

      Hi Anil. Welcome to my blog.. I would love to get your feedback on what I write here. I think that people who are ‘right’ or ‘left’ brain dominant can be equally mindful just as they can be equally responsible.

      I think that mindfulness is the antidote to human ‘entropy’, which automatically drags one down into the most lethargically comfortable state regardless of ‘right’ or ‘left’ brain dominance.



  • vinaire  On January 31, 2013 at 6:20 AM

    To me, non-judgmental looking is relative.
    (1) It is not adding any judgments to what is there.
    (2) It is noticing the judgment which is already there.

    Perception is a judgment. Actually, it is layer upon layers of judgments like the layers of an onion. So, non-judgmental looking is looking at the topmost layer of judgment that is already there.



  • vinaire  On January 31, 2013 at 11:52 AM

    Truth is relative. There is no absolute truth.

    One level of truth = what we perceive through our filter.
    Another level of truth = what we may perceive when that known filter is no longer being used.

    But if a filter is basically a “frame of reference” then there must be a new filter that is interpreting for us this new level of truth.

    As we become aware of filters that we were not aware of before, and then discard them, we achieve increasingly clearer view of what is there.

    All meanings come from filters (frames of references). When there is no filter there would be no meaning either.

    Considerations act as filters. They do not go anywhere. We either use them or not use them. We get attached to them or stay detached from them.



  • Nia Simone  On January 31, 2013 at 2:01 PM

    Hi Vinaire,

    Popping in for my new daily visit. This has really helped me. I use it to look at what’s on the page. It helps me get outside the fear of the page when I’m writing. This is huge.

    BTW, I worked with engineers for 18 years and never met one I didn’t like. (Even married one!) I’m glad to have met you here in the blogisphere so I don’t miss the engineering mind so much.



    • vinaire  On January 31, 2013 at 2:10 PM

      Hi Nia,

      Welcome to my blog. I am told that my writing is too Engineerish for most people to understand. So, I need to find time and inclination to translate from Engineerish to English.

      I am glad that you could follow this post, and it has helped you. This is the heart of how I understand Buddha. All my philosophy (KHTK – Knowing How To Know) is based on these 12 points of mindfulness.

      Maybe this association with you will help me write better.



      • Nia Simone  On January 31, 2013 at 2:34 PM

        Hi Vinay,

        I made a living translating engineers. I always found engineers to be extremely good writers and thinkers; but could often help with making abstraction more concrete and organizing complex ideas into bite-sized pieces. This post is very bite-sized… great job!



      • vinaire  On January 31, 2013 at 5:25 PM

        OK, Nia, try this one out for size, Let me see how you do with this one. 🙂




        • Nia Simone  On January 31, 2013 at 6:20 PM

          I don’t think you need my translating efforts. 😉 Good stuff.


        • vinaire  On January 31, 2013 at 6:23 PM

          Can it be improved?



        • Nia Simone  On January 31, 2013 at 6:27 PM

          I would have to do mindful contemplation for a very long time! Truly, it all is very logical and clear.


        • vinaire  On January 31, 2013 at 6:32 PM

          My goodness, you didn’t even blink an eye. What about all that beating and correction that the concept of “God” and the “First Cause” got?



        • Nia Simone  On January 31, 2013 at 6:38 PM

          I thought the concept of God was really good in the first place, so I didn’t bother with the beating! I’ll take a look at the beating.


        • vinaire  On January 31, 2013 at 6:44 PM

          I am speechless.



  • Nia Simone  On January 31, 2013 at 6:56 PM

    Why? Oh dear, I hope I didn’t offend you this time! I added my 2 cents on the other spot. Thanks!


    • vinaire  On January 31, 2013 at 7:31 PM

      I am speechless because you are really bright. I don’t come across somebody like you very often.



      • Nia Simone  On January 31, 2013 at 7:46 PM

        Oh. *blush*


      • Chris Thompson  On January 31, 2013 at 9:21 PM

        +1. –Vin, we need to get out more often and stop hanging around with cult-members. They become our only measure of extant humans, and that may be just plain wrong.


        • vinaire  On February 16, 2013 at 3:05 PM

          Chris, cult members are no different from anybody else in their desire to improve. They just need to start looking on their own. Any way that we can help them look would be a wonderful accomplishment.



        • Chris Thompson  On February 16, 2013 at 3:12 PM

          That is a very kind and friendly remark. Kudos for making it.

          However, though cult membership may begin with a curiosity; a looking for depth of understanding; finally, cult membership takes that away. It might be the main thing that cult membership really takes.

          Cult membership and that avid craving for agreement are the antithesis of an open spirit — sincerely looking to resolve the inconsistencies of this life.


        • vinaire  On February 16, 2013 at 3:06 PM

          I find that Marildi has started to look in greater depth. That is wonderful.



        • Chris Thompson  On February 16, 2013 at 3:14 PM

          What have you observed?


        • vinaire  On February 16, 2013 at 4:43 PM

          Marildi is more patient in looking at KHTK… More so than Geir.



        • vinaire  On February 16, 2013 at 4:58 PM

          Geir is fixated on the idea that I am trying to promote KHTK through his blog, and that is creating a games condition for him.

          Geir feels sort of being in competition with my blog. He hates the idea that somebody may promote his/her blog through his blog. Geir is very territorial in this respect.

          That indicates to me of “individualism” and “ego.” It goes against the idea that we can contribute to knowledge together. Hubbard was very territirial too, Therefore, Hubbard declared himself to be the source of Scientology.

          I think that this characteristic is also very cultish.



  • phil pipieri  On March 29, 2013 at 7:24 PM

    I find your mindfulness steps an endearing guide for those seeking mindlessness, They are as good for the spirit and mind as breathing is for the body. If one could develop a pattern or habit which the mind could follow to keep those steps going, it would be a boon for most. Meanwhile, I’ve found that certain forms of steady meditation can dissolve enough of the mental distraction and “case” in big ways to get to a point where one can appreciate your steps and literally change their entire vibration.
    I personally noticed the equivalent “noise reduction” of 1000 of auditing in less than 40 hours of meditation without any of the bs that would go with a cult.
    The forum people need your input, thank you for your kindness and caring enough to put those gentle words into reach for them to appreciate and heal.


    • vinaire  On March 29, 2013 at 8:15 PM

      Dear Phil, Thank you for your kind words. This is the old tech of Buddha communicated in modern vocabulary. I am now putting some exercises together so people can practice these step and make mindfulness their second nature.




  • vinaire  On April 3, 2013 at 9:07 PM

    Here is an excellent question put to me by an old classmate from IITK. I am sharing it here.


    Responding with your original post so the 12 steps would be included for reference.

    I happened to read your post around the time that I saw a video by Stanford professor Clifford Nass explaining why texts and social media don’t measure up to face to face interaction . He points out that face to face interaction involves feedback about emotions, positive and negative, from the other person.

    Now let us revisit your 12 steps, keeping in mind emotions and relationships with others. Except for Step 7, “Experience fully what is there,” the other steps deal with being attentive, observing, using the mind, thinking, … which are all internal processes, having to do with the self.

    We are social beings — think of what the GJR* meant to those who attended in the company of batch mates and spouses. How would you go beyond Mindfulness, which seems to me to deal with the self, and bring expand the concepts to include relationships with others?


    *GJR = Golden Jubilee Reunion of the 1963 batch of IITK in March 2013.



  • vinaire  On April 4, 2013 at 6:37 AM

    Here are my quick responses to Ravi:

    “Thanks for picking up the subject of mindfulness for discussion. Being from academia you bring a unique perspective from which to examine mindfulness.

    “Buddha considered mindfulness to be of great importance in the path to enlightenment. See Comparing it to the factors that contribute to social maturity would certainly be interesting.

    “It is late now. I shall get back to you soon.”


    “I have found that mindfulness removes introversion and helps extrovert a person. I believe that mindfulness, when taught at an educational institution, such as, IITK, can help drastically reduce the instances of suicide.

    “Stanford professor Clifford Nass seem to suggest face to face interaction as a solution to some problem that I am not very clear about. The standards of social maturity are very different in the West as compared to those in the East. A person like a scientist, can be a detached observer, and still be socially very responsible. Such detached observation is taught through mindfulness. That has been the hallmark of Eastern philosophy.

    “On the other hand, the hallmark of Western Philosophy has been delving deep into life and experiencing the emotions, such as those, which come from scaling the mountains, or sailing across the seas. It is the spirit of adventure and creative imagination, which is valued in the West the most. However, I believe that mindfulness prepares one for that too.

    “I think that Professor Nass is looking at the effect of social media on 8 -12 year old pre-teens. It is an important study but it concentrates on a very narrow band.

    “These are some quick thoughts. Self is a pretty large subject and I may not have answered your question fully.”



  • vinaire  On April 5, 2013 at 6:34 AM

    Here is an email from another old classmate RAM MISRA:


    Vinay and Ravi,

    This is a great discussion. Maybe there is a book in the making -The 63 Batch Philosophy.

    Many years ago, I came up with a saying (others probably have said this too):

    Blessed are those who do not seek the purpose of life.

    Having said that, the concept of Buddhist mindfullness, as described by Vinay, requires mindlessness.



    • vinaire  On April 5, 2013 at 6:35 AM


      I am always impressed with your “go-getter” spirit.

      Yes, there seem to be another 63-Batch book in making here, and I can’t think of a better editor than Ravi.


      [Note: We published the IITK history and the accomplishments from our ’63-batch in a book edited by Ravi at our recent GJR (Golden Jubilee Reunion) in March 2013. That book has been a great accomplishment.]


    • Chris Thompson  On April 5, 2013 at 8:46 AM

      Vinay: Having said that, the concept of Buddhist mindfullness, as described by Vinay, requires mindlessness.

      Chris: Does it? Are we sure?


  • vinaire  On September 2, 2013 at 1:32 PM

    I have updated points 1. and 2. of the OP (opening post).



  • vinaire  On September 2, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    I have restored the previous version. I am working on a new version, which shall be issued separately.



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