“Mindfulness helps us become more resilient at the same time as it makes us more vulnerable and sensitive.”
– Ronald D. Siegel, PsyD
Most people come to counseling because they want to get rid of their pain and feel better. They do not expect to hear that as they become stronger and better able to manage stress and emotional pain they may actually become more vulnerable or sensitive. Dr. Siegel (referenced above) explained this confusing paradox with a traditional Japanese adage: Which is stronger, a mighty oak tree or a reed of bamboo? Most would think the oak tree. However, when a monsoon comes the oak tree breaks and scatters while the bamboo reed bends and folds to the ground. After the storm passes the bamboo stands right back up again seemingly undamaged.
The true goal must be resilience, the ability like the bamboo to bounce back after a storm, because no one can prevent the storm from coming. Mindfulness helps us to develop bamboo like resilience because it trains us become aware of and accept a full range of emotional responses. As you become more aware of your emotions and with it more sensitive to them, you are vulnerable to feeling joy and pain more fully and deeply. However, when you feel emotions more fully they leave less of a trace. They pass over you like a gentle breeze or the wind of a monsoon. Then you can more easily recover and move on to experiencing the next moment.
photo credit: jscatty
The Mindfulness Solution: Everyday Practices for Everyday Problems by Ronald D. Siegel