I have been reading about Mindfulness and recommitted myself to my meditation practice. But today I am "feeling" what it might be all about. While reading Full Catastrophe Livingby Jon Kabat-Zinn I was struck by his "Attitudinal Foundations of Mindfulness Practice".
He begins with non-judging and moves to patience.
These are two qualities that most of us (speaking personally) do not possess in great abundance. Our tendency is to judge every person, experience, thought or emotion which inundates our mind. It is so natural for us to do so that we are unaware of its power over us.
Every mental state is judged along a scale of extremely positive to neutral to extremely negative. Our bodies and emotions react powerfully to these judgments. Our ability to step back and observe the contents of our minds becomes diminished.
Then patience steps in–or the lack of it. We react immediately to our own judging mind and demand action.
We find it difficult to be a peace in any given moment because of our tendency to compare where we are where we believe we "should" be. We declare a certain future goal or place to be of a higher value than where we are at the present. We are impatient with the time we are "wasting" until we get to that planned experience. We essentially devalue the present moment and the unexplored richness it offer. We accept it as a necessary evil in order to get to some future, un experienced fantasy.
For example, we may find that being alone is nearly intolerable because we are indoctrinated with the belief that only other people can make our moments valuable. We suffer because of this delusion of awareness.
Instead we need to recognize the value of wherever we are in the present moment. There is truth and beauty in the present moment even if we "judge" it as being not what we fantasize as being somehow "better".
We can honor ourselves through the practice of meditation. It is time when we are strictly alone with the content of our minds. Exploring the true nature of reality can bring us serenity we cannot find in a crowd of others.
But what if we endeavor to experience each moment without comparing it to any other ?
Perhaps we could actually be present in the moment when we brushed our teeth, for example. Perhaps we could dress, shower, even eliminate our wastes with a mindful presence. Perhaps that wait in traffic would not result in distress and suffering, all of which, quite obviously, is self-induced.
Even moments of suffering can be understood on a spiritual plane to be necessary experiences. Although our first reaction is to escape from or deny these experiences we need to understand that each moment is capable of teaching us about ourselves and offer us opportunities.
Our dark moments offer us opportunities to learn compassion for the suffering of others, to motivate us to seek change, to learn about how the universe works and how we can grow as well.
Of course this observation does not dictate that we abandon goals, aspirations or not look forward to rewarding, pleasant or profound experiences. We clearly need to live with an awareness of what we must do in order for the future to unfold according to our desires. But we should avoid becoming fixated or stuck in either the future or the past. This only creates more anxiety, agitation, worry and suffering.
Serenity is best experienced in the present moment. Even the most mundane can be savored for what it is–the only moment that exists right now.