What is mindfulness

“You cannot solve a problem with the same consciousness that created it” Albert Einstein

 Mindfulness is really just a way of being. It is absolutely not about perfection or being in a perfect Zen state all the time and although its origins were in Buddhism you do not have to be religious or even spiritual.  Mindfulness is basically about awareness and acceptance and self kindness. I have heard mindfulness described as a way to uproot entrenched habits of mind that cause unhappiness. and also that it is a path to “cessation of suffering” and “realisation”.

Ultimately though it is all about our relationship with ourselves and the present moment – are you fighting the present moment or are you at peace with present moment? Are you really hard on yourself or are you really kind and supportive to yourself? Most of us have just got used to the internal struggle.

I think some people think mindfulness is just about being peaceful and Zen like, which is a great set point to have, but it is also about feeling alert and satisfied and clear about life. it’s about getting good “sea legs” for when the storms come and living life to the full. The egoic mind wants to keep us safe from perceived danger and keep the status quo – even when we are unhappy.

So mindfulness is about awareness and the present moment but it is also about the fundamentals like intention, perspective, focus and beliefs – and of course acceptance.  In most of our cultures in the Western world we are taught that acceptance is a cowardly acquiescence -giving in. In fact it is the opposite, it takes great courage to accept things as they are, and it is only when we truly see things as they are and accept them that we can move forward.

One of the reasons something like a loved ones death can cause such suffering is because we are unable to, or refuse to accept the finality of it. It is only when we start to accept it we find some peace. I’m not sure whether Carl Jung practiced mindfulness but he was certainly spot on when he said “what we resist persists”. When we fight or push against ‘what is’ we keep it locked in the foreground of attention and reality. When we choose to forgive someone it is not in aid of the other, it is so that we may find peace.

Jung also said “we cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate it suppresses.” What we accept we transcend. When we can find a way to find a little peace with the way things are at present we can find a way to move forward.

Mindfulness brings clarity to focus on what really want in life and to gently let go of what isn’t working for us. I guess it is about the  “going with the flow” instead of the “swimming up stream” that we’ve become accustomed to.

It just makes sense. Mindfulness is just so simple and practical and Shirley explains it all so well.” Ian R