“Every mindful step we make and every mindful breath we take will establish peace in the present moment and prevent war in the future.”
These are the powerful words of Vietnamese Buddhist monk, author, and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh who suggests that world peace begins with cultivating peace within ourselves through the practice of mindfulness.
“What is mindfulness?” you ask? Mindfulness is the act of being present and living in the moment. It’s about paying attention to what you’re doing while you’re actually doing it. You may say, “Of course I know what I’m doing when I’m doing it.” But, do you really? Do you notice the sensations in your body? Do you feel the emotions that come up? And even if you do, why is it important?
At the pace the world is going, including all the political upheavals, environmental calamities, and technological advances, our minds race to keep up. We often find ourselves going through the motions of everyday life, not thinking about what we’re doing or why we’re doing it but just going on auto-pilot. The stress of daily life begins to take a toll on us, and our bodies eventually let us know in a usually inconvenient way, by coming down with a viral illness, aches and pains, headaches, fatigue, etc. Mindfulness helps us stay in tune with our selves and our bodies, thus being better able to respond more timely and appropriately, and thereby improving our overall health and well-being. And, who doesn’t want to be healthy?
Now that we’ve decided that being mindful would be of great benefit to our lives and the world, we need to understand the attitudinal foundations for practice. Here they are:
- Non-judgment. Cultivate impartial observation to any experience, without getting caught up in our own opinions.
- Patience. Patience is a form of wisdom in understanding that things must unfold in their own time. It allows us to embrace change with compassion.
- Beginner’s mind. See things as if for the first time, with curiosity and being open to possibility. This frees us from expectations and judgment based on past experiences so that we can fully appreciate the richness of the present.
- Trust. By honoring and trusting your feelings and intuition, you take responsibility for your own being and become more fully yourself.
- Non-striving. Practice being instead of doing, without trying to get anywhere other than where you are now.
- Acceptance. Acknowledge things as they actually are in the present.
- Letting Be. Practice non-attachment, purposefully letting go of impulses and ideas and letting things be as they are.
Being mindful in every waking moment of every day doesn’t happen overnight but with commitment, practice, and intention, we can choose to approach each moment with the above attitudes and will begin to see positive changes in our lives and the world.
If you’d like more discussion about mindfulness and its attitudinal foundations and are curious about how to put it into practice, check out my events page for future workshops regarding this topic or contact me here.