It is difficult to describe a happy, peaceful person. What are they like and what does it feel like to be one? To be honest most of us have never really met one, but if you had how would you know it?
The teachers of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction have pulled from ancient wisdom and given us attitudes that are to be cultivated when you practice mindfulness and meditation. They are helpful because they give us words and concepts to describe our goal. In addition, they give us a picture of what a peaceful person may be like or how they might think.
Consider the 7 attitudes below which based on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s list in the foundation work Full Catastrophe Living.
- Non-Judgement – The opposite of typical habits of labeling as good or bad, right or wrong, fair or unfair. Instead simply be aware of experiences as they happen in the moment as an impartial witness.
- Patience – A form of wisdom that understands the nature of change and accepts the fact that things must unfold in their own time. Rather than trying to fill up our time with activity or force changes upon ourselves or others, a patient attitude is completely open to each moment and accepts it fully as it is.
- Beginner’s Mind – A willingness to see everything as if for the first time. This allows you to notice the extraordinary in ordinary moments like a young child might. Becoming free of expectations based on past experiences often gives us the ability to experience a truer version of the day to day.
- Trust – This refers to a basic trust in yourself, your own feelings, and your intuition. As you become more fully yourself you learn to listen to and trust your own being.
- Nonstriving – An awareness of where you are now. The opposite of our typical state of pushing toward meeting a goal, improving something, or getting somewhere that we are not currently. Instead of trying so hard that we create anxiety, one simply allows themselves to be themselves while doing the task at hand.
- Acceptance – Seeing things as they actually are in the current moment rather than wasting energy denying or resisting what is already fact. This does not mean you have to like everything or passively resign yourself to tolerating current circumstances. Only be willing to see things as they are.
- Letting Be – A way of letting things be as they are rather than holding on to pleasant experiences and trying to prevent or get rid of unpleasant, painful, or frightening ones. The suggestion is to instead observe your own mind grasping and pushing away. Simply recognize this and then let go of the impulse on purpose, just to see what will happen if you do.
I find it helpful to reflect on these 7 attitudes and review them in mind as often as I can remember. As I practice my own meditation and observe my own mind, the wisdom in these principles continuesto teach on new levels every day.
photo credit: h.koppdelaney
reference: Full Catatrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness by Jon Kabat-Zinn