I recently came across an article “7 things mindful people do differently every day and how to begin now” by Elisha Goldstein, Phd. You can find the article here http://blogs.psychcentral.com/mindfulness/2014/05/7-things-mindful-people-do-differently-every-day-and-how-to-begin-now/ and this got me thinking about how, just by changing our attitude towards our obstacles/challenges, we can change how we view life.
Practice being curious: We need to develop the mind of a beginner, we need to imagine seeing something for the first time. We need to learn to discover things just like we did when we were children. Remember seeing a different or unique object for the first time? Imagine seeing a flower for the first time. What would this be like? What sort of questions would you ask?
“Life is routine and routine is resistance to wonder”
– Abraham Joshua
Curiosity leads us to getting in touch with the wonders and possibilities of life.
How many times have you been too tired to complete a task, felt too busy to do something important, found yourself doubting the process, avoided what is uncomfortable or just felt too restless to be able to concentrate on anything?
I don’t know about you, but I usually criticize myself relentlessly for “failing” when these are not signs of failing at all. They are actually opportunities for learning about the hindrances of life, what gets in our way and needs us to understand two things:
1) What we need in those moments
2) The fastest route to begin again
What would be helpful is if we could “forgive” and “invite” ourselves to try again. When we get caught in an obstacle, we need to “forgive” ourselves for the time lost, investigate the obstacle to learn from it, and then “invite” ourselves to begin again. Practicing to “forgive” and “invite” continuously in life becomes an increasingly strong vehicle for growth.
Hold emotions lightly:
When we pay attention to any emotion we start to experience it is an energy in “motion”. Emotions come and go making it natural not to hold on to them too tightly. When practicing mindfulness, we need to be grateful for the good moments (emotions) and graceful during the more difficult ones.
Noticing suffering with an inclination to want to help in some way can be classified as compassion. If we continuously intentionally pay attention to ourselves with a curious and caring attention, we send out the message to our brain that we are worth caring about. When we start paying attention to difficult emotions, we become less afraid of them.
Emotions can become our teachers to get better at understanding what our needs are and the needs of others thereby helping ourselves and others. The act of self-compassion or compassion is the essential healing agent and facilitates connection which is a cornerstone to happiness.
Make peace with imperfection:
This is a really difficult one for me. When we are keenly aware of our imperfections, it usually erupts into a flood of continuous self-judgement. We need to realise we are not the only imperfect ones. We also need to realise that we don’t need to be perfect all the time. Imperfection is human.
“To be in harmony with the wholeness of things is not to have anxiety over our imperfections”
– Dogen Zenji (Zen priest).
Vulnerability is where the gold is. By embracing vulnerability we develop courage, trust and connection. It takes courage to take the leap and to be vulnerable, in doing so we begin to trust ourselves and others thereby cultivating a connection which allows us to feel safe and happy.
Understand that all things come and go:
Nothing is permanent. Sounds appear and disappear. Seasons change. We are born, grow up and eventually die. Life becomes increasingly precious.
“Wherever you are that’s the entry point”
– Kabir (Poet)
There are so many ways to begin. Begin where you are.