This was a response from me to a person also criticizing the bare-awareness understanding of mindfulness. I am curious what do you think of it. This is my understanding of mindfulness so far.
That’s exactly the point of mindfulness in the first place. Most understand it as bare attention for the sake of developing bare attention like one would develop a good tendency, or develop muscle at the gym. And maybe this is why some have a trouble understanding why listening to the dhamma is considered mindfulness by the Buddha.
The way I understand mindfulness, it is like staying in a tall tower and seeing everything below. For example when one is walking his mind might go off towards thoughts that come to ones mind, or be led away by signs of things (for example by seeing a particular place, starting to remember memories from it an daydream etc.). Or for example one might be reading something on the internet, then get cought up in reading or doing something and then get cought up in that and be led ashtray, forgetting he was supposed to work or do something else or simply use his minutes more productively. When one is sitting in the tall tower of mindfulness, he is seeing all things and remembering what he is supposed to do, remembering his interest and so push away these things that drag him to the side. “Mindfulness” actually comes from “to remember”. These are gross examples but things go down to much more subtle levels, the second level where it gets to “investigation of states”.
When on is mindful, he is keeping himself in the high tower and pushing these things to the side. When one is doing bare attention, he is not really in the high tower and not doing what a person sitting in a high tower would do. One can much more easily get dragged to the side in such a state and maybe even keep doing this bare attention a little when being already dragged to the side, not remembering what he is supposed to do.
The reason why paying attention to the body is required is for helping one stay in this tall tower. If one is paying attention to thoughts that come up to ones mind or random things, he will fall down from the high tower much more easily then when having walking or breathing as an anchor. But the bare-attention camp believe the whole point is to pay attention to the body or breath and stay as focused on that as possible, like a hammer in look of a nail, not understanding the whole point of that is just to help one stay in the high tower.
Those who do not agree fill free to contradict me, but the way I understand minfulness it is sitting in this high tower and remembering to do what one planned to do, or judging every moment what is in ones best interest, and deciding weather to do it or not. For example one might not know if it is productive to give attention to a particular sign/aspect of a thing or to another sign/aspect of a thing and he might decide in that moment what to do. This is how mindfulness is developing the second factor: investigation of states.
Note: The best way to practice this is when walking alone. It will be 20 times more effective than in day to day life or when walking with somebody else and talking.