Why Be Mindful?
We cannot avoid suffering in our life and the effort and time that we often spend avoiding, denying, being overwhelmed and stressed about the things we cannot change, can be exhausting and unfulfilling.You might have noticed that so much of your day is spent in automatic pilot, always busy but distracted, wrapped up in past or future thoughts, feeling anxious or stressed, yearning to feel settled and balanced, yet seemingly unable to break free. Learning to cultivate a response of mindful kindness and compassion to our daily life experiences and habitual behaviours, we can discover that softening into our experience creates space for the tender strength of acceptance of the moment by moment experience.
When we practice being mindfully curious of our actual experience, we can begin to recognise when our automatic habits and behaviours are happening, and the signs of stress and anxiety that usually unhelpfully accompany them. This can enable us to choose to come alongside and activate soothing, calming behaviours, so we are less likely to drop into reactive habits and be resistant and/or overwhelmed by our experience.
When we calm the mind and body, we are more likely to have perspective and clarity, see more options and choices, and make wiser decisions for ourselves.
And when we open to all our experience, we are more likely to notice the moments of joy that nourish and restore us, that fill our day, but so often go unnoticed. We can allow ourselves to absorb even the smallest of pleasures, the baby’s laughter, the warm sunlight on our face, the shimmering of raindrops, the stillness of the air.
When we encourage noticing the ordinary joys, we encourage the strengthening of our well being, emotional resilience and equilibrium. This in turn helps us deal more helpfully with the not so comfortable experiences in our life.
Do you find yourself stuck in endless loops of internal, hypercritical dialogue? The harder you try to think your way into solving what ever issue has arisen, the more stuck you feel? The mind has an infinite capacity to keep thinking; to keep coming up with the ‘fix it’ solutions, to keep you safe and alive as programmed by it since primeval times. Very necessary then, to make sure you survived the dinosaur time, not always helpful now as this ‘survival mode, with its rush of adrenaline and cortisol can get applied within our automatic reactive behaviours to even the smallest of uncomfortable situations. We can become a little like the meerkat, always on hyper alert, employing the ‘look out for danger mode’ all the time, which can be tiring, disempowering and unproductive in the long run.
All of this reflects in our bodies as physical sensations and emotional landings i.e worry with the clenched jaw, the anxiety in a tight neck, fatigue in achy eyes, stress in an overactive gut, pain in the back, holding our breath. Our body holds the anxieties and stresses within it and we often don’t allow ourselves to notice until there is large presence felt e.g persistent headaches, overwhelming fatigue, that burnt out sensation all over.
Being mindful, bringing kindly and compassionate attention to ourselves, our thoughts and body, using a variety of meditation practices, pause moments, mindful movements, nature noticing, can help us be with our experience in a helpful and responsive way. We learn to accept kindly what we cannot change and become responsive and compassionate to that which we can.