Mindfulness Meditation
    • Learning how our mind creates our world

Watch Your Attitude

by on 30 August


Soon after I retired, I began a regular morning walk around the neighborhood to get some fresh air and exercise. Only later did I realize what I was really doing.


We live in in west-end Ottawa. It’s a pleasant neighborhood, about 1000 houses built around 1960. It’s quiet, friendly and a short walk to the Ottawa River. While the houses are well maintained, our neigbours vary in their enthusiasm for gardening.


After a few weeks, I returned home after my walk and realized that, as well as exercising, I’d been evaluating peoples’ yards. I wasn’t comparing their yards to my yard but my “inner voice” - my thinking - had offered opinions about what some neighbours could do to “spruce up” their yard. I was silently critiquing my neighbours’ yards!


Apart from feeling embarrassed about this newly found habit, I realized that - after each walk - I felt kind of dis-connected and slightly uncomfortable. I decided to change my approach to my morning tours.


Before each walk, I made an intention about my attitude as well as my focus. As well as practicing awareness - curiousity - about the neighborhood yards, I would do it with an appreciative mind.


The results were quite pleasant. I enjoyed many pretty gardens and appreciated the thought and effort that had gone into beautifying these yards. All because I was consciously adopting a wholesome attitude rather than defaulting to “automatic pilot” mode.


Mindfulness includes paying attention - to our outer and inner life. But it has three components in total:
1. Intention - deciding to pay attention to the “here and now”. “I will observe my neighbours’ yards as I walk”
2. Attention - being consciously aware of what’s going on around you and in your mind - using your sense organs: eyes, ears, sense of touch, smell, taste, and mind. “I am paying attention to the yards as I walk along.”
3. Attitude - adopting a wholesome attitude to what you’re experiencing - “I am appreciating these yards for what they are.”


The Canadian Oxford Dictionary defines attitude as “a settled opinion or way of thinking”. But we are free to change our opinions. In practicing mindfulness, we aim to develop attitudes which are wholesome, which are healing. And we aim to do this particularly whenever we feel any emotional discomfort with reality, whenever we feel tension in the body and mind as a result of what we’re thinking.


Thai’s how we heal ourselves through awareness. We begin to see with brutal honesty how we live, including our conditioned habits or patterns (our karma). And, as we begin to see reality - our life - we begin to let go of patterns that are harmful to us and/or those around us.


A wonderful book on Zen philosophy I’m reading currently - Authentic Life, by Ezra Bayda - offers this advice on wholesome attitudes:


                                                                         Appreciate life just as it is

                                                                 Appreciate yourself just as you are

                                                                 Appreciate others just as they are


Peter Black

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