In mindfulness, the best way to get from point A to point B is stay at point A. By being present to what’s here, point B arises on its own. We practice mindfulness without a goal of having to get somewhere. We practice mindfulness for the sake of being present. The act of being present in each moment is itself a transformative choice.
If you are walking down the street, you may be focused on the red light two hundred feet away. You may see that red light as a symbol of all that gets in the way of you doing what you need to get done. You may think of the red light as a nudge to hurry up and move with speed toward whatever goal is next. If the light is green, you may see it as a momentary window of opportunity that you mustn’t miss. You start speeding up so you can make the light before it turns red! Because you are striving for point B, your pulse starts to quicken and your breathing gets tight. You start feeling anxious, impatient, prone to negative thoughts. You are not a happy camper.
The mindful approach to such a situation is to focus on each step while also being aware that the next intersection lies ahead. You are aware of the wider context and meaning of your environment (the upcoming intersection), but you are focusing your attention simply on each step you take. You are not rushing to make the light, you are not lost in thoughts about your next meeting or the due date of a report you’re writing. You’re simply walking and knowing that you’re walking. Being with the sensations of your walking rather than with the anxiety of your to-do list.
At some point you come to the street corner. You look up at the light. If it’s red, you wait. If it’s green, you walk. But because you were mindful while you were walking you were always in fact at your destination. You weren’t focusing on point B at all. You were staying with A – the here and now – and point B arrived without effort or striving or anxiety or impatience.