Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Mindfulness with Kindness
Jon Kabatt Zinn defines Mindfulness as "The Art of Paying Attention, on Purpose, Without Judgement to the Present Moment."

But “Without judgement” is sometimes misunderstood as meaning passively accepting, and this is not the case:

We all make judgements between “good” and “bad” without even being consciously aware that we are doing so. For example, the majority of us will judge a kitten or puppy, or a fast and expensive car, as good, and a pile of soiled and smelly nappies/diapers as bad. You may have even noticed a physical reaction just now to the images that those words conjured up. Those reactions are spontaneous and unconscious.

So when we say mindfulness is without judgement, we do not mean fighting those natural and spontaneous reactions. Rather it’s about acknowledging them, with kindness, whether we judge them good or bad. 

And it’s also important to understand that acknowledging without judgement is not the same as allowing an unwanted situation to continue. It is acknowledging that it is as it is right now, and no amount of complaining, whining or self reproach will change that. But that does not mean we cannot plan a way to change things.

In his recent blog in Mindful Magazine, Ed Halliwell suggested using the term Kindfulness, and perhaps it would be a good idea to replace “Without Judgement” with “With Kindness” instead.
And this kindness is really what permeates Mindfulness throughout. Kindness to ourselves whenever we find our thoughts wandering during meditation, kindness to ourselves whenever we get frustrated or anxious about things, kindness to ourselves whenever we forget important stuff or make mistakes.
So paying attention without judgement really means acknowledging everything that‘s going on in our mind, with kindness.

As we practice mindfulness regularly, our self-confidence increases, and we develop not only a greater tolerance and kindness towards ourselves, but also towards the people around us.  And with this greater tolerance and kindness comes greater compassion and understanding. And now we really do have the key to changing unwanted situations; because with compassion and understanding comes greater clarity. We become less reactive and more proactive.

So for example, instead of whining and complaining about, or forcefully confronting our boss, we can approach them calmly and voice our concern or disparity with kindness. We may not get exactly what we want, but the process of change has begun, and our self-confidence and clarity will make it more likely that we will reach some solution eventually.

I have to agree with Ed Halliway when he says that if we lose the kindness from Mindfulness, then it really just becomes a form of attention training.

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