I looked up the definition of mindfulness:
"Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us."
I was interested to deliver a training for mindfulness that was truly useful and applicable to every day situations, both at work and in life.
I have personally attempted the practice of being in the now and not allowing distracting thoughts to interfere with my state of being present and to be totally honest I couldn't ever really do it! And I have been practicing meditation for 25 years... So I have always been aware that there is something about mindfulness that was missing for me and I was interested in this training to explore that and offer something that would be truly helpful.
"Observe the present moment as it is. The aim of mindfulness is not quieting the mind, or attempting to achieve a state of eternal calm. The goal is simple: we’re aiming to pay attention to the present moment, without judgement. Easier said than done, we know.
Let your judgments roll by. When we notice judgements arise during our practice, we can make a mental note of them, and let them pass.
The part that is easy about mindfulness is to just focus all the senses on this moment. The part that is not so easy is to actually do that. Why? Because the moment I take a moment of reflection time it's highly likely that all of my pending to-do list will let me know of its presence. Add to that all of my unresolved issues, emotions and frustrations.
So this outlook doesn't look very inspiring as a lovely relaxing mindfulness meditative moment of calm...
Here there are two things that crash into each other. 1. My desire to be peaceful and calm and 2. My inner world gushing up like a fountain to let me know of all the things I've been ignoring.
So what's the solution?
Mindfulness practice suggests to simply observe the thought coming and then passing by just like a cloud, with kindness and no judgement...
But what if the thought I'm trying to 'let go of' is so taxing and pending that I can't actually do that? Then I'm left feeling like a failure and that I just can't do this mindfulness thing anyway...
What I know is that there is another way.
The thoughts and feelings come up for a reason - they want my attention. Otherwise they wouldn't bother me. The thought and feelings that are uncomfortable, that I don't like, that I wish would just go away and leave me along are only arising because they want my loving attention. They want to be acknowledged. And only I can acknowledge those thoughts.
One thing is to let go and put it in a cloud and pass by, and this is a great technique if you're in the middle of something that you need to focus on. But afterwards when you have a moment, there is the invitation to face that thought and explore why it is that it's paying you a visit. If the thought/issue/feeling is not acknowledged it will go deeper into the unconscious.
So we're not denying or ignoring anything. We are acknowledging our thoughts and ourselves.
This is mindfulness with a heart. And this is for me what really works. This is why and how I teach mindfulness. So I invited participants to notice their thoughts and feelings and to absolutely everything that came up, to say; it's okay to think this, it's okay to feel this way.
And it worked, I could see it.
Their faces changed, looked lighter, looked more relaxed, as though a weight had been removed from their shoulders. I could see the transformation tangibly.
There is nothing worse than fighting with a thought or a feeling into all infinity because the more I resist anything the more it will persist. And I know this to be true because for most of my own life I tried this strategy and it created massive inner conflict.
For the next state of the training, I went onto the kind inner voice. How you speak to yourself in your mind when something goes wrong? Do yo reassure yourself and say, "it's okay, I love you, I'm here for you no matter what my darling." Or do you berate yourself and judge yourself for being so stupid?
We move into going down the kind loving voice route and this self-kindness can only be an inside job which then radiates outwards.
And what of world peace? Is there anything I can do?
Ever get the feeling you're not enough? Ever get the debilitating pang of pain and worry when you see what's going on in the news and to the planet?
Imagine if everybody spoke to themselves with kindness and compassion. Imagine if then that lovely vibration was projected outwards into conversations and relationships...
And if things go wrong, as they so often do, there's no panic and big drama - in its place instead "it's okay, we'll get this, I'm here with you by your side, I'm holding your hand, don't worry, it will be alright, I'm with you, I love you."
What kind of a world would we collectively create?
Would this impact world peace?
So my group went away happy, smiling and with a new energy and lease of life. In the closing circle of sharing what word are you feeling like right now some were: positive, inspired, happy, relaxed, optimistic, grateful, peaceful.
I think mindfulness is due an upgrade.
So I'm upgrading mindfulness to kindfulness.
Later I discovered that in the evaluations I'd been given 10/10 so I'm just delighted :)
To find out more about being kind to yourself see www.truedivinenature.com and watch Matt Kahn's videos or get the book Whatever arises, LOVE that. .