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These days I am living in the question of “ mindfulness”. Well, maybe not so much the question, rather finding the solution in mindfulness.
What brought me to this burning curiosity about “ mindfulness”?
Every day, every moment, through all kinds of social media, words of wisdom and directions on how to live our lives, pour into our senses like spring showers ( or more like summer storms if you are in Southeast US). We are swimming in the vast ocean of “ quotes” and “ advices”. Resources for learning are as abundant as Sunshine in Southern California. From iPod, iPad, iPhone, ibook and conference calls to the old versions of screens, books and workshops there is no shortage of saturating our senses with wisdom. We take it all in. We are busy learning in every breath! We “ like” great teachings from great masters on social media and yet we turn around and respond to life in the exact opposite way . What percentage of all the material we read or learn do we really live? How much do we allow the teachings integrate into our daily lives and daily decision making? How much do we do things the way we are used to, even if it means abandoning what we learned on our Facebook page? Why do we live day after day, year after year,responding similarly to triggers and challenges; still getting worked up in traffic, still running away from discussing that soar subject with a dear friend, still denying that behavior we know is keeping us back?
Besides no matter how much we learn and grow, life is changing non-stop, without vacations and national or religious holidays and it’s constantly demanding different responses from us. As intelligent creatures, we are changing as well; our bodies, our minds, our nervous system is constantly changing. We might underestimate the effect of that last email we check in bed but weather we like it or not, weather we believe it or not, the contents of the email changes our mood, it affects our sleep, it affects the release of hormones, it affects our nervous system and it is carried on to our day the next morning and it changes the responses we give to events around us. So, what affects the “ choice” of checking that email right before bed? How do we define our priorities and how much responsibility do we take for the outcome of our choices?Would developing mindfulness affect these choices? How is practicing practicing mindfulness related to building resilience?
Relating these questions to mindfulness and claiming that mindfulness can be a solution to the triggers life throws at us, from all dimensions, requires a good understanding of mindfulness prior to anything. Ronald D Siegal in his book “ the mindfulness solution” defines it best: Mindfulness is awareness of present experience with acceptance. Let’s see! By this definition if I am “mindful”, when I can’t find my car keys in the morning while I am already late for work I can remain calm, since I am able to accept this experience with awareness and responsibility rather than blaming heaven and earth for it! Living this perspective, when I wake up one morning with a diminished eye-sight and hear the news that I have a torn retina with the possibility of blindness, I am able to remain calm, be aware of my experience and accept the fact that I may have to make major adjustments to my life style due to an unexpected change. I can mindfully and curiously follow the procedures and take advantage of technology and bring some joy to the routine days of the specialists who are caring for me with my pleasant attitude. What’s my other option? Store frustration and anger in every cell in my body, step into my surgery room detesting the staff and the procedure, finding fault with every bit of the space and leaving the place torturing my self with worry and mistrust! Doesn’t mindfulness seem to be the answer?
No doubt that building resilience helps us move through challenges of life. I am a big advocate of building resilience but in order to move towards a resilient way of being, staying calm is a crucial first step. And this calmness is only possible if we can accept the present experience with awareness; mindfully. Quoting Robert D.Siegel again: “ Mindfulness can help us see and accept things as they are. This means we can come to peace with the inevitability of change and the impossibility of always winning….Mindfulness also helps us loosen our painful preoccupation with " self”…. Mindfulness allows us to experience the richness of the moments….Mindfulness frees us to act more wisely and skillfully in our everyday decisions as we become less concerned with the implications of our actions for our particular welfare and more focused on the bigger picture.” How are you bringing mindfulness into your life?