Mindfulness doesn’t merely teach us to centre our minds in the present, but to powerful reorient ourselves to the full timeline of our lived experiences. In doing so, we learn to recognise our experiences of the world around us in powerfully transformative ways. While some may start with the concern that mindfulness is a selfish turn inward that removes them from the facts and realities of the world, that inward turn is only for a moment—the ultimate aim of mindfulness practices is, in fact, a return to the world that we are unconsciously watching pass by.
Jon Kabat-Zinn described a number of mindfulness attitudes, which I like to summarise like this:
- Non-judgement refers to the practicing of observing the moment without attributing positive or negative traits to it—instead, a non-judgemental approach seeks to simply recognise and reside with the thought, emotion, or moment.
- Patience is the ability to allow events to come and to leave in their own time rather than trying to force one’s own expectations of how something should or shouldn’t be.
- Developing a beginner’s mind enables us to see things fresh so that we are able to fully recognise their full implications without forcing our own preconceptions or expectations onto the experience.
- By developing trust we learn to recognise that there is a great deal of wisdom in ourselves and as we connect fully to the present we are able to see things as they truly are.
- Non-striving reminds us that even though our society pushes us towards goals and objectives, that we should allow events, emotions, and ideas to simply unfold without attempting to force a specific aim.
- Acceptance is the willingness to see events, emotions, and ideas as they are and not trying to change things unnecessarily.
- By letting go we can allow our mind to release unnecessary patterns or ideas that do not serve a greater purpose.