1. Mindfulness is not about salvation, becoming saintly or developing a holier than thou personality. Our true nature is basically good and mindfulness enables us to develop greater awareness of the self, the world around us and people we come into contact with. By accepting that the knowledge we presently possess is not the absolute changeless truth, we learn to avoid being narrow minded and bound to particular views or doctrine. The path to reality (not salvation) is living mindfully, cultivating greater peace, compassion and understanding. Non attachment from views allows us to be open to others’ viewpoints, open to continual learning and stops us becoming bigoted know-alls. All systems of thoughts are guiding means only, not absolute truth.
2. Mindfulness offers us choice, and choice is freedom from worldly (or other worldly) constraints. Mindfulness is about seeing with our own eyes and making choices every moment, choices that have a direct impact on our world, that world in which we inhabit. It does not lay before us a set of rules we must slavishly follow, nothing we must accept purely on the basis of somebody else’s spiritual authority. Mindfulness is about direct life experience, in the now, from the thoughts we think, to the words we utter and the deeds we do.
3. Like a benign and loving gardener caring for the seeds and plants, yet also nurturing the environment and creating a haven for frogs, birds and wildlife, the more acts of kindness, caring concern and tender loving care we offer to those around us and our world, the more they will blossom and produce seeds, fruit and beautiful flowers. By creating the conditions that nurture others, we are creating the conditions that let our inner self flourish. Nurturing our own positive qualities and choosing positive over negative, allows us to find positive meaning in our lives. Mindfulness allows us to see things and discern with greater accuracy and less distortion. We begin to listen to a peaceful inner voice, rather than a fragile ego. The result is a greater inner confidence and personal security.
4. Mindfulness can help nurture and develop greater emotional resilience and freedom from stress and emotional disharmony. By cultivating inner calmness we can learn to develop the ability to bend with the winds of emotional turbulence. Like a pebble on a beach we can allow the negative waves of emotional disharmony to pass over us. Responding to stress around us with a non reactive awareness we can develop a more balanced perspective. What might have been responded to in a negative, attacking, judging or defensive manner can be as a neutral part of life’s passing show.
5. It can help to promote a greater sense of connection with others. Just as the act of physically hugging another can flood the body with oxytocin, a hormone that enhances closeness, warmth and nurturing in early parenthood. Mindfulness can help us to develop a deeper sense of personal security which can bring about a soothing influence on those around us. As we become less prone to receiving whatever negativity may be emanating from those around us, we develop a more stable sense of self.
Developing a more intimate relationship with ourselves can lead us to become less reliant on others. When we do not “need” others to feel accepted, supported and loved, we are not dependent on others to make us feel secure and accepted. Just as when another is overwhelmed by anxiety, hooked into being upset and overreacting, we can help by simply offering a mindful presence, offering ourselves as a safe container by paying full attention with heartfelt empathy and emotional attunement. Adopting a sense of calm spaciousness along with a calm and caring warmth can help them feel the safe haven, if only at a subliminal level of neural resonance.
6. Mindfulness promotes greater honesty and genuineness. When we stop saying untruthful things in order to impress people or for our own personal aims and interest, we learn that we do not need to play this game. When we step back from gossiping or spreading rumour we do not know to be certain, we become less judgemental, less critical. Over time people will begin to recognise we are truthful and courageous and will gravitate towards us; they too are likely to want to learn to speak truthfully and constructively like us, and in so doing, begin to develop a greater sense of personal security.
7. Tuning into the self through mindfulness allows us to be fully present and available. It will help us to learn how to manage physical and emotional pain and stress and to fully experience thinking, feeling and being. It allows us to be fully present in whatever we are doing, accepting without judgement and savouring the pleasures in life as we experience them. It allows us to detach from worries and become less concerned with success and self-esteem. It can help cultivate a greater sense of personal well-being, and research has shown that it can help improve physical and psychological health.
Until next time,
Love and Peace, Steve
Bennett-Goleman, T (2013) “Try a Little Tenderness” Shambhala Sun, July. 69-74.
Hanh, Thich Nhat (1991) Peace is every step; the path of mindfulness in every step. Rider.
McLeod, M (2013) “Are You Spiritual But Not Religious?” Shambhala Sun, Nov. 43-49.