I have been trying to cultivate my own Mindfulness practice now for over two years, trying to do formal as well as informal practice on a daily basis; sometimes successfully, sometimes not. At times it has felt really easy. Sometimes, it has felt almost impossible, However, what has kept me going is the concepts of bringing awareness into my daily life; being more present and connected to what is going on around me. With these, I have felt truly alive for the first time in a long time.
Mindfulness has many aspects to it that can be interesting to explore. I have experienced many including silent practices; walking and movement practices; even mindful eating and tasting. All of these lend themselves not only to the formal practice of meditation but also in how we live our lives. Once we have learned about them, we can actually apply these concepts in our daily life. For example, what is it like for you to do something routine (such as going for a walk with what is called “a beginners mind” (I’ll explain what this means in a subsequent post)? Is it possible to approach activities and life’s events with a fresh viewpoint? Is there something new to be noticed? Sometimes our beliefs and assumptions about the way something is, prevent us from experiencing the richness of the present moment; of the life around us.
I recently came across a video from Jon Kabat-Zinn where he talks about having the right set of attitudes that support the practice of Mindfulness. He talks about the fact that Mindfulness is more than just the formal sitting meditation practice; it is an approach to life. The challenge that we all face is the way we think of ourselves as “I, me and mine”; who we think we are and who we actually are are two entirely different things. Do you constantly think about yourself rather than others? Do you really understand who you are and what life means for you?
There appear to be seven attitudes that Jon describes (plus a couple of others at the end of the videos). They were originally described in the book Jon wrote called Full Catastrophe Living:How to cope with stress, pain and illness using mindfulness meditation. They are:-
Non-judging: Consists in taking the position of an impartial witness to your own experience.
Patience: Having patience demonstrates that we understand and accept the fact that sometimes things unfold in their own time.
Beginner’s mind: Practising mindfulness means to take the chance to see everything as if it was for the first time.
Trust: Learning to trust one’s own experience, feelings and intuition.
Non-striving: Almost everything we do is for a purpose. Meditation and Mindfulness should not be!
Acceptance: Accepting what is happening in your life; around you and to the general situation of life.
“You have to accept yourself as you are, before you can really change” (op.cit. p. 38). This attitude is about attending to one’s experience with clarity and kindness, an essential foundation of meditation practice. Whereas a formal kindness meditation is not taught within the course material, this quality is inferred to within all the course content.
Letting go: The idea of letting go, or non-attachment, is fundamental to the practice of mindfulness.
We have a journey we can travel together: I have reflected on each of these and over the coming weeks will share my thoughts, experiences and feedback on each of them via a set of blog posts dedicated to each attitude. I hope you find them enlightening and thought provoking.
If you would like to check out the video that inspired this series, that Introduces the attitudes of Mindfulness click on the link below:
I leave you with the following quote.
“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.”