The Goal of meditation is not to get rid of your thoughts or emotions, the goal of meditation is to become aware of your thoughts and emotions and learn how to move through them without getting stuck.” – Dr. Phillippe Goldin
We’ve been discussing the 9 attributes or attitudes that Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn believes embody mindfulness. Mindfulness is more a way of being than something you do and practicing these attitudes has helped me be more present, more authentic. In my previous post I reviewed the first four attributes.
The fifth attribute is Non-striving. For such a Type A Personality, this is a tough one for me. And in our culture doing something for a purpose or a certain outcome is strongly encouraged. Mindfulness meditation isn’t like that. Meditation is different from all other kinds of human activities. It has no goal other than being yourself. Embracing this attribute helps me relax about “doing it right” and consequently makes the process/project/purpose more enjoyable.
The sixth is Acceptance. When I can first accept that I am a control-freak, or that I need to exercise more or that my relationship with this person isn’t as I would like it to be, I can see the situation so much more clearly. I can see that these things don’t define me. They just are. And with a calm, relaxed mind I can then make better choices for what I want to do about them.
The seventh attitudinal factor or pillar of mindfulness meditation is Letting Go. Oh boy, I spent an entire year working on this one. And I continue to struggle with releasing old beliefs, bad habits, and toxic thoughts. But the more I practice, the more muscle I build in that area and the easier it becomes. I like to imagine these things as old tapes, recordings that I have played in my mind over and over again. Once I realize that’s all they all – something that I am still believing only because I always have – then I can cut the tape and make the thought stop playing. I realize I have control over what plays in my head. I can let go of what isn’t serving me anymore and plant new, fresh, positive, healthy recordings.
The eighth attribute is Gratitude. One of the fastest ways I have to bring myself to the present moment and calm my nerves is to find something right in front of me for which to be grateful. Sometimes the best I can do is just being grateful for my breath.
The ninth and final attribute is generosity. I end each day sending out this prayer. “May a light shine bold and bright on all who speak their truth; may love, laughter, and a life of abundance, be my daily proof; that when I speak with discernment, have a heart full of grace, and keep an open mind, my light will shine bold and bright providing peace, joy, love, compassion, happiness and harmony to all man and woman-kind.” I’m sending love and light out to the world at least once each day.
Kabat-Zinn says, “Mindfulness meditation is moment-to-moment awareness. It is cultivated by purposely paying attention to things we ordinarily never give a moment’s thought to. It is a systematic approach to developing new kinds of control and wisdom in our lives, based on our inner capacities for relaxation, paying attention, awareness, and insight.”
This really isn’t rocket science. But it does take discipline. It has been crucial to my self care journey and I wonder if it could be for you.
Try incorporating just one of these attributes into your life and tell me how it goes.
To hear Dr. Kabat-Zinn speak about the attributes in short 2-4 minute videos go to 9 Attributes of Mindfulness
To read more about self care tools go to Fuzzy Red Socks