You might have a quick answer to this question…what is the purpose of mindfulness? Perhaps it’s more peace, less stress, less anxiety, more focus and concentration.
For sure they are all true and important. Mindfulness is a great way to have less stress, less negative thinking and more peace through being present to this moment.
But I think these are all great side effects to a practice that helps us, above all, to remember who we truly are by reminding us of who we are not.
We are not our thoughts. How can we be, when they are not always here, frequently not true, change all the time, and are actually out of our control?
We are not our feelings. All feelings come and go. They are qualities of energy that pass through us, mostly related to our thinking.
We are not our behaviours. We might do great things, or not-so-great things… but how can this be who we are?
We are the unconditioned awareness, the presence, who is behind all this. Through our mindfulness practice we sit and watch the changing landscape of thoughts and emotions rising and falling, but who is watching? You. You are much more than your experiences and you have multitudes of choices of how to think, feel and behave.
In my mindfulness classes we start to notice our thoughts, our reactions and our triggers that keep us stuck. This is a point of expanded awareness from which we can make a choice, hopefully one that feels right for us.
“Between stimulus (trigger) and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.”
Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
You can start now. When you get stressed, anxious or reactive in some way, start to become very present to what is happening in that moment. Notice what you are telling yourself.
Notice your thoughts,
and your behaviour.
Sometimes that is enough. Just to become aware. You are the awareness. Notice that the reaction is yours. No-one elses. No-one can cause this in you. This is the gold mine and your responsibility. These are the moments we brush over and before we know it we are singing the same tune, reacting in the same way time and time again even if it doesn’t serve us.
Breathe. Notice what is there? A story to let go of, an expectation of someone. an old belief that needs to go?
For example, in my practice over the years I have noticed where I judge others and the assumptions it was based on that came from pure, old conditioned thoughts and kept me from being able to open to an experience that was different than mine. I still have likes and dislikes that guide me, but judging rarely enters the scene anymore. I set myself free…. or at least I can see when the trap of an old story arises.
When you notice yourself getting trapped…who would you be without that old story/thought/reaction? Is there another way to look at it? Or many more ways?
Ahhh… freedom. You are the one that noticed. You are not the reaction.
Lots of love,