‘Meditation develops our stamina to stay with things the way they are.’
I don’t know where I found this quote, but it’s a great reminder to accept the present moment!
Let’s explore this – the fact that it feels quite common to rush through tasks in order to beat the clock or get somewhere else. Our minds are often in a completely different place to our physical presence.
To be mindful means that you are aware in the present moment of all that you are experiencing .
- This can be easy to implement when you spend a few moments sitting with your breath
- Or as you walk quietly along the street
- And be completely in the zone as you do your regular swim or run
Stay with things the way they are – when it’s OK
I like to keep it really simple:
- While walking down the stairs I focus on my physical movements
- Each time I pick up my mug of tea I feel the warmth through my hands, savour the flavour and feel the sense of calm I notice in my stomach
- As I walk out of my home to my car I consider the placing of my footsteps and slowing my walking down
I know it’s equally easy to do the opposite and hurry through these experiences:
- Rush downstairs and perhaps slip
- Make tea then forget about it as it turns cold on my desk
- Rush along to my car with a ‘mind full’ (not mindful!) of tasks I must fit in to the day
It’s almost as if we want to resist the present moment, even when things are going smoothly.
Stay with things the way they are – when it’s not going so well
And we’ve all experienced challenging situations such as ill-health, uncertainty and fear.
With mindfulness you’re invited to do the opposite; bring your awareness to your reaction. To lean in to the discomfort.
Explore what it feels like to sit with the feeling of fear or uncertainty or anger. Be gentle and compassionate with yourself as you notice your feelings, thoughts and self-judgments.
Accept how things are right now. Be curious about how it feels. A strong emotion is usually a message to you.
If you never listen, you’ll never learn anything different. You’ll always act on auto-pilot, resisting the emotion. Anger, shame or fear ask you to delve deeper rather than push them away.
How to stay with things the way they are when you feel physical pain
You might feel the discomfort of physical pain.
Allow yourself to sit in meditation. Invite the feelings and notice how the mind adds disturbance to the situation. On top of the physical challenge, the mind adds frustration, anguish, anger, blame and so on.
Notice how the body tenses up against the pain. Try to soften into the pain by breathing into the area that’s bothering you.
Breathe into it with softness, acceptance and curiosity. You may begin to see how we add more suffering onto our pain with our tension and negative inner-talk.
Keep being mindful
I have noticed that this being mindful really takes a hold. It’s like a reassuring hand on my shoulder if I start getting panicky about anything.
It can help if I’m struggling with headaches or a bad back. As you sit to meditate you develop the skill which is a form of training or re-programming old habits. Through practice your awareness becomes a consistent approach to life.
If you have started being more mindful what are your experiences when it comes to difficult emotions? Do share in the comments below. Don’t forget – stay with things the way they are!
PS. Of course this doesn’t mean you abandon your medication that helps you deal with pain. Alongside this, keep being curious at all stages of ill-health – there is a lot to explore if you allow yourself! And sometimes, difficult emotions mean you definitely don’t want to stay with things the way they are, there is a message that you need to make change happen.
Yvette Jane – Mindfulness & Meditation Guide