Hopefully you have not become too overwhelmed with your weekly mindfulness practices. Remember that you do not need to do all of them everyday. If you find that a particular exercise resonates with you, stick that one. We learn to observe and become witness to our thoughts and actions we begin to notice those tricky little desires that pop up all the time. The desire to rush or speed up the task, the desire to tell ourselves stories and over analyze, the desire to make excuses and procrastinate. I bet you are smiling to yourself right now, if you recognize one of those habits in yourself. Becoming aware those desires, is the first step in the process of working through them.
When you begin to notice the anger rise up, you can catch that anger, watch it, observe it. How it makes you feel, how you choose to react or watch that anger. Don’t push the anger away or try to hide. Sit with it, feel it, recognize it. Be aware of the anger in you. Try not to analyze or justify they anger. Just let it be. Over time, the anger will fade. You will see that the anger no longer serves a purpose. It is tiring, it is no longer worth it. You decide to stop suffering from your anger because it’s not worth it. You begin to notice when other people are angry but you now have this new understanding that perhaps they are unaware of their anger and their pain. You feel compassionate towards them. You are grateful you have been able to process through the anger you feel.
This is just one small example of how Mindfulness can manifest in our lives. It doesn’t happen instantly overnight or in a week. Perhaps months or even years of dedicated mindfulness practice can help us to let go of deep seated emotions or feelings that have be growing for years.
We are constantly talking to ourselves. There is what psychologists call a ‘feedback loop’ of chatter that we say to ourselves all the time. Unfortunately our mind tends to focus on the negative. Perhaps you have hear, “I’m not good enough” “No one loves me” “Your so ugly”. We all have triggers that set off this self talk which ultimately keeps us from living our life to its fullest. Each time you say to yourself “I suck” you are watering a weed that is growing and growing and becomes hard to control. We all have a garden in our minds full of weeds. We know that from research, negative self talk can lead to poor self-esteem, low body image, depression, anxiety, stress and even physical health ailments. Our mindfulness practice can help us to clear out the weeds and start planting new seeds. Once the seeds are planted we need to keep watering those seeds so that they too begin to bloom. The challenge that we face is many of our weeds have been passed down from our ancestors through the generations having cultural and ethnic complications. Through each of the Mindfulness Practices you can begin to develop your perceptions and your awareness of your own self-talk. Remember, awareness is always the first step. Now it’s time to plant the seeds. Whether is it through a seated breathing meditation or a walking meditation, choose your mantra, “I am kind” “I am helpful” “I am worthy” “I am enough” “I am loved”. Repeat these words to yourself everyday. Express gratitude to the universe or to god for granting us these capabilities, these gifts. We believe “I suck” because we’ve heard to hundreds if not thousands of times. When that “I suck” seed was planted in you years ago, the person that said those words was wrong. Perhaps they were suffering from their own negative weeds, they could be the very same words spoken to them years before. They said those words lacking awareness of how they would impact you. In your own time, forgive the speaker of those words, because they said so with out awareness or understanding of the power of those words.
The thing with “Awareness”: awareness develops differently for everyone. Some people are ready and open to it. Awareness requires us to do some hard work and often we discover some shadows that we don’t like. Others prefer to live a life of ignorance, “I don’t know, what I don’t know” and they are okay with that. We cannot force awareness on anyone who isn’t ready for it. Also recognize the desire in you to pass judgement. It is natural. We are taught to judge others through comparison. Without judgement or comparison we wouldn’t be able to make sense of our world. The wisdom that I pass along here, is to catch yourself if you find yourself judging someone else for their apparent lack of awareness. Recognize you are on a different path from that person. It is okay. Smile and be grateful for your process.
If you have children, teach them how to plant their own seeds of kindness and compassion. Teach them that every person in the world shares the same desires: to be loved unconditionally.
Next week, Mindful Eating.