What Do You Need To Be Mindful?
Have you ever been on autopilot where you were brushing your teeth, driving your car or cooking but unaware your doing this and instead be in a meeting at work, making plans for a holiday or doing the food shop list, lost in thought, worrying, and not feeling alive in your body even though your living inside of it each day? Does this sound familiar?
When we are aware of our body senses and have a kindly awareness towards the sensations in our body we can calm the mind and we find areas of calm in our body naturally from this simple, kind focus. Mindfulness helps us wake-up to our life, to living, breathing, being alive, it makes it so much easier, joyful even to be alive, so we don’t have to run away by being on autopilot or become like a walking corpse (as the Tibetan Buddhist monk Shantideva describes people who live without mindfulness).
The modern-day grand-father of mindfulness Jon Kabbat-Zinn first described the underlying qualities that support mindfulness practice in his book ‘Wherever You Go, There You Are’. He wrote there are seven attitudes that if practiced together over time will help you to grow a strong sense of full body awareness, and a presence that, when integrated into your life can allow a deep sense of calm and inner peace. The seven attitudes are non-judging, patience, a beginner's mind, trust, non-striving, acceptance and letting go. I would add compassion, gratefulness and wisdom to that list too.
'Mindfulness is cultivated by assuming the stance of an impartial witness to your own experience.' - Jon Kabbat-Zinn
To do this we need to become aware of the constant stream of judging and criticism that we are normally caught up in, either towards others or our self. We might think, "well how can I stop? I seem to just judge myself and others, it happens without me even noticing." The first thing is to know it’s okay there’s nothing wrong here, it’s just the natural way of the conditioned mind to judge.
We react to things in terms of what value we place upon it. Some things are judged as good because they seem to make us feel good, others we judge as bad because they seem to make us feel bad and there are those that are neither good nor bad because we don't give them much relevance.
When we examine this we can see that we are in fact locked into automatic reactions that we are not aware of and have no objective basis at all. These judgements don't need to dominate our mind, if we can begin to see through our own prejudices and fears we can find a way towards freedom from their tyranny. Mindfully aware of this judging as it is happening and being a witness to it, not trying to stop it or judge it too, just recognising whatever comes up in the here and now.
Transform Judgment with Love, Empathy, Kindness, and Compassion.
You can go beyond observation and use your judgment to turn every situation or event into a positive experience. When you practice kindness towards life, others and yourself, you see the world differently.
Look at the above picture.
What do you see? You could see “a sad girl”, “a girl in a deep thought” or you could come to any other conclusion. You can’t know what is unknown. It’s all a matter of belief.
It’s okay to not know. The above picture shows a girl in a car. That’s all. Whatever else you conclude out of it is your opinion or belief. You could be 100% correct. But there’s a slight edge when you learn to develop your observational mind. When you observe before you judge, you open yourself to possibilities. You acknowledge that your opinion is not a fact. It’s how you choose to see the world.
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” — Carl Jung
When you judge someone, it affects you more than the other person. It says more about you than the other person. You convey how you perceive the world. It shows the pre-conceptions your mind has.
When you judge, ask yourself why you’re judging.
Is it because of a preconceived notion?
Is it because of my knowledge or experiences?
Is it because of my strong values?
Is it because of my limited view of the world?
Am I biased?
Am I jealous?
Does the judgment hold true for me instead?
Once you know the reason, let the judgment resolve. And if it helps, do the opposite. Turn your judgment around and make it positive. It’s not about whether you’re right or wrong.
It’s about how YOU see the world. Your perception becomes your reality. Embrace the differences between you and other people. Maybe they don’t see what you see. Maybe they don’t want the same things as you. Maybe they have a different life philosophy and values in life. If you want others to stop judging you, stop judging others first. When you stop judging, you also stop caring about what other people think about you.
Changing The Way You See The World
“The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.” — Jiddu Krishnamurti
One of the most common thing in a guided meditation is the act of observation. They tell you to stop judging and instead observe the thoughts and let them go. When you take the time to practice your observation skill, it will naturally be the way you see your life, you take it into your life and use it when you need it the most. Even after you practice your observation skill, you can’t avoid judgment. It’s part of your thinking system.
A deeper level of observation is observing your judgments without judgment. Let’s say you judge a man based on his action. Now, notice your judgment. Don’t turn your opinion into facts. Or believe that you are all bad for judging, you’re not, its just a thought arising in the mind.
Think to yourself…
“I’m judging this person due to a past experience or because I have a preconception. I may be right or wrong. There is no need for a conclusion. I can let it be.”
Detach yourself from your judgments. You don’t need to have an opinion about everything happening around you. Better yet, you can take a step beyond and give someone the benefit of the doubt for your own peace of mind.
“Love is the absence of judgment.” — Dalai Lama
You can go beyond observation and use your judgment to turn every situation or event into a positive experience. When you practice kindness towards life, others and yourself, you see the world differently. You think differently.
Instead of saying “I have wasted a lot of my time”, say “I’m thankful for the time I still have.”
Instead of saying “I failed”, say “I found out what did not work”.
Instead of saying “It’s not perfect”, say “I can do better next time”.
Instead of saying “I’m terrible at X”, say “I can get better at X”.
Instead of saying “I’m going through a hard time”, say “Better days will come”.
Instead of saying “X is coming in my way”, say “Bring it on. X challenge is an opportunity for growth”.
Instead of saying “X person is mean”, say “X person needs love.”
Observe your judgments and practice kindness.
Stop judging people and let them be who they are.
Stop judging yourself and let yourself shine.
Stop judging life and let it flow...