‘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!
You can be mindful when you spend a few moments sitting with your breath, walking quietly along the street or noticing your thoughts as you do your regular swim. It’s about being present in the moment you are experiencing. Instead of rushing through in order to beat the clock or get somewhere else.
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!
I know it’s 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 the street 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. We tend to resist these too; we really don’t want to dwell on them! Most of the time we push unwanted feelings and physical experiences away.
With mindfulness you’re invited to do the opposite; bring your awareness to your reaction.
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. Anger, shame or fear are emotions asking you to delve deeper rather than push them away.
Feeling physical pain
You might feel the discomfort of physical pain. 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.
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. It is a skill you can develop or train – through practice it 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!
Yvette Jane – Mindfulness & Meditation Coach
Place of Serenity, East Hants, UK