“I am done with mindfulness”
A friend of mind recently announced during one of our phone conversations. Immediately I was intrigued. What had mindfulness done to her? Why did she feel such a strong desire to push it away from her life?
“I am sick of trying to be with the pain and the fear. It hurts too much and I can’t feel okay with it all.”
Ah, did you catch that? Somewhere along the way mindfulness became equated with comfort, ease, and being okay with it all.
It may help to define mindfulness; I adore Jon Kabat-Zinn’s definition.
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally."
That last part is key...without judgement. This doesn’t just refer to the judgments we hold around our thoughts, emotions, and experiences; being non-judgmental also refers to becoming aware of the judgments or expectations we have of mindfulness.
When we practice mindfulness, however we do it, it is not a promise of comfort and/or ease. It will however, with commitment, lead us to living life with more equanimity even in difficult situations.
Practicing and developing the ability to be with, and breathe into whatever we are feeling, sensing, and thinking is one of the greatest tools we can develop. This practice requires developing trust in yourself that you are capable of feeling your feelings - however they show up.
The next time you realize you are uncomfortable, try this:
- Realize that you just practiced mindfulness (yay!).
- Stop what you are doing, become still, and take several deep conscious breaths.
- Follow your experience with curiosity, like you are a fly on the wall or a micro spaceship hanging out inside your body watching what is happening.
- When you become aware that you’ve shifted from witnessing your experience to thinking about it - because you will - let that go and return to your breath, return to the practice of mere recognition without judgement.
Understand that whatever arises will also pass.
Paying attention to what is happening within us is not always going to be comfortable; in fact, most of the time there is some level of discomfort.
This discomfort is telling us to pay attention to something. Fear in its natural flowing state is often our intuition. Grief and sorrow in their natural flowing states signal us that there is something to let go of. Learn to listen to the messages without judgement and you’ll be amazed at how things can shift.