Mindfulness Meditation
    • Insight, letting go, inner happiness

Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life

by on 01 October

I just reread a wonderful book - Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life. The author is Jon Kabatt-Zinn, founder of the world-wide course on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) which I teach. Check out his background on the first post on this blog – Growing Mindfulness.


The chapters are very short – about 4 pages – but you’ll want to read them slowly to savour his words of wisdom. Part One explores the rationale and background for practicing mindfulness; Part Two deals with formal meditation practice; and Part Three explores a range of applications and perspectives on mindfulness. I'd like to share with you Jon's reasons for practicing mindfulness, and several attitudes to support the practice.


Mindfulness is about waking up and living in harmony with oneself and with the world. As a result, you can live your life more fully, effectively, and peacefully. This follows from paying attention moment by moment without judging what’s going on – just noticing and observing.


Meditation is the mental training to strengthen our power of concentration, like practicing the piano or going to the gym. And mindfulness is using this concentration to pay attention during the day.


When we do this, we wake up to our reality and how we’re living our life. We realize that we’re thinking about the past and future half the time – thinking that is largely unnecessary, often incorrect, and possibly harmful. And, we learn about our unconscious habits which can cause stress – habits of thought, speech, and action.


When we realize the stress we are creating, we can change our behavior. We can make more wholesome choices in how we live – what thoughts we think, what words we speak, what actions we take. And, by making these choices many times each day, they slowly become intuitive. And we can support this practice by cultivating five healthy attitudes.


The first attitude is Patience. The wisdom of patience realizes that “things unfold in their own time”. Without patience, you will always want things to be different than they are. You will cause stress for yourself by fighting with reality.


The second attitude is Letting Go. We may need to let go of our thoughts about the way we think things are or should be, or an image we have of ourselves - positive or negative - or tension in the body that keeps us from feeling anything else. Letting go is simply recognizing our attachments in our mind/body and making room for seeing things as they really are.


Non-judging is third. Getting caught up in judgments keeps us from fully experiencing any situation. “When you begin to experience your life beyond the boundaries of judging thoughts, you can make room for everything and work with whatever comes up”.


Trust is the fourth attitude. Trusting your own feelings, intuition and wisdom will connect you with your own inner resources for coping with stress and with life.


Generosity is the final attitude. It starts with generosity toward yourself – self-acceptance rather than self-criticism, and some time each day with no purpose. And, it extends toward others – sharing your enthusiasm, trust, and presence with those around you and who you meet.


We meditate in order to be mindful. We practice mindfulness in order to notice how we’re living. And, when we notice that we are mentally fighting with reality and causing stress for ourselves, we can change our approach right in the moment. We can adopt a healthier approach to what we’re thinking and doing, to how we’re living our life, right now.


“Mindfulness . . . is a way to take charge of the direction and quality of our own lives, including our relationships within the family, our relationship to work . . . and most fundamentally, our relationship to ourselves as a person”.


Jon Kabatt-Zinn calls mindfulness the art of conscious living. It is, he says, “simple but not easy”. But, it can be profoundly beneficial.

 

I highly recommend this book if you want to learn about meditation and mindfulness, or if you want to deepen your practice.


Peter Black - Instructor, Meditation and Mindfulness

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