The Attitudinal Foundation of Mindfulness Practice

( As explained in Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book “Full Catastrophe Living”)

Non-Judgement

We simply will not be able to look at things as they are when focusing on the moment, if we are being judgemental towards the thoughts that may occur while practicing mindfulness.

It is important for us to allow ourselves to become aware of our constant streams of consciousness and judging on our inner and outer experiences that normally occur so we can step back from them.

When we focus on what is actually happening in our mind, as opposed to interrupting our processes with judgemental thoughts like “Oh, I shouldn’t be thinking this”, we can develop a deeper understanding of ourselves, and observe our subconscious beliefs, values and opinions on all sorts of different parts of our lives.

If we want to adapt a much more effective way to relieve stress instead of labelling things and jumping to strong judgements, the first thing we need to do is become aware of the constant judgements that are going through our minds throughout the majority of our days

Patience

This pretty much is what it says on the tin, patience when it comes to mindfulness is all about letting things unfold in their own time. When I have been taught about the attitudinal foundations of mindfulness in the past, I’ve often been given an analogy about how butterflies can only emerge from their cocoons in their own time – if you force open a cocoon, the caterpillar will not be a butterfly quite yet, and won’t benefit from being forced out before it’s ready.

Beginner’s Mind

I was once told about a man in america who visited a buddhist temple and said that he wanted to learn all about buddhism. The monk said he would do so and took him into a separate room where he began to pour them both a cup of tea. The monk kept pouring and pouring until the cup eventually overfilled, and the man told him to stop because the cup could no longer hold anymore.

The monk turned to the man and explained that this is exactly why the man was not ready to be taught. If his mind is already filled with preconceptions he will not be able to be receptive to new possibilities and new knowledge due to ego.

And this is why it is essential for us to adapt a mindset that is willing to see everything as if for a first time, so as not to get stuck in a rut of our own “expertise”.

Trust

Is is important for us to create a basic trust in ourselves, our feelings, and the process when practicing mindfulness. This means we are able to respect ourselves, trust in our own authority and intuition and forgive ourselves for any “mistakes” we make along the way.

This has to happen in order to take responsibility for yourself and your own wellbeing, and goes hand-in-hand with the principle of non-judgement

Non-Striving

If when we meditate our goal is to relax, we are not truly meditating. The art of meditation is to just be, just sit and let ourselves do just that. It is paying attention to how you are right now, however that is and just watching. The best way to achieve your personal goals is to simply back off from striving and instead focus on where you are now, seeing and accepting things as they are moment to moment. With regular practice, progress towards your goals will take place on its own.

Acceptance

Seeing things as they are in the present is an important skill for recovery in general, but is extremely powerful in this practice as we waste a lot of time and energy denying what is fact. This is our brain’s way to try and force situations to be how we would like them to be to protect ourselves from pain, but ultimately just creates more tension and prevents positive change from occurring.

Now is the only time we have for anything, the only time we have control over, so we must accept ourselves as we are in this very moment before we can truly change.

Acceptance is not passive by any means, it doesn’t mean you have to like or enjoy everything and abandon all your values or emotions. It does not require you to redesign yourself and resign to tolerating things, nor does it mean that you should stop trying to break free of your own bad, self-destructive habits and give up your desire to evolve.

All acceptance is is the willingness to see things as they are so you are much more likely to see things rationally and know what to do. It creates an inner conviction to act when you have a clear picture of what is truly happening.

Letting go

Letting go is to let things be, and accept things as they are. All we need to do is let things go and watch. If we find it particularly difficult to let go of something because it has a particularly strong hold on our minds, we can always direct our attention to what the feeling of holding onto the painful memories feels like. Holding on is the opposite to letting go, and being willing to look at the ways we hold on shows a lot about its opposites.

We already know how to let go to a certain extent, every single night we go to sleep, we are letting go of any events that may have happened during the day, and are preparing ourselves to enter into the next.

2 thoughts on “The Attitudinal Foundation of Mindfulness Practice

  1. Mindfulness is a great concept to write about. I love how you used inspirational quotes to connect your thoughts. Lately, I’ve been really struggling with patience and trust as it relates to relationships. I look forward to reading your future blog posts.

    Liked by 1 person

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