Number 5 in a Series
What does living mindfully mean to you?
“Attention!” “Pay Attention!” “Here and now!” Omnipresent myna birds constantly repeating these words are a defining characteristic of the island of Pala. The Island, a novel that Aldous Huxley considered to be his most important, takes place on this remote Pacific paradise.
When Will Farnaby, a shipwrecked cynical journalist, asks about the birds the answer he receives is, “That’s what you always forget, isn’t it? I mean, you forget to pay attention to what’s happening. And that’s the same as not being here and now.”
Mindfulness is being present with whatever is going on around and inside us. Learned behavior patterns keep us from fully experiencing the moment. In childhood, expressing feelings often leads to criticism and the pain of rejection.
Well into adulthood, still trapped in my behavior pattern of denying my feelings I did not know that:
- When I was disrespected during a discussion I felt pain and sadness at not being heard.
- During many sexual experiences how often I felt the pain of being disconnected and alone.
- My job left me feeling bored and unfulfilled.
- When other humans and our planet were being harmed, how deeply terrifying and painful it was for me.
Repressing feelings created an alternate reality in which I spent a great deal of time. The primary characteristic of this existence was the non-feeling state of deadness. All this began changing when I opened to spiritual and psychological disciplines wherein a central aspect was living more mindfully.
Tuning-in to my feelings I learn so many important things. When mindful of my feelings I am better able to discriminate between those feelings and behaviors that are heartfelt and fulfill me and those that are heartless and not serving me.
Awareness of my feelings gives me choice. When disconnected from my heart I might choose to continue feeling and behaving as I am, or I can stop, reconnect to my heart, and learn from those feelings. (A future post Learning, Learning, Learning explores more of what we can learn.)
To cultivate mindfulness it’s been important to develop my “witness self. “ This means being able to observe with a curious and non-judgmental focus. Once I make the choice to stop my thoughts, I can bring myself back to my present experience of what I am feeling. Returning to my heart and listening with an open mind is how I find inner peace and balance.
For Your Journey
1. You can develop your witness self by:
a) Looking at objects or people in your environment and simply observing them without judgment;
b) Observing your feelings and your body without judgment; and
c) Looking externally at an object and turning “one eye inward” so that you are looking outward and inward simultaneously.
2. Share-it-forward. Discuss your thoughts and experiences about mindfulness and your witness self.
First in the Series: Live Joyfully: Get Out of Your Head
BECOMING YOUR OWN HERO illuminates a path available to us all to attain the kind of personal power demonstrated by our most revered and inspirational heroes. Marianne Williamson, #1 New York Times best-selling author said, “I highly recommend this illuminating and touching look into the possibilities of staying connected to our hearts, even when facing difficult situations.”