9 Attitudes That Will Help You Master Mindfulness
Only you can change yourself and the change starts with new attitudes.
We humans are quite funny. We focus on something until it becomes quite popular and move on to another toy when we get bored. Mindfulness is one of these modern concepts in our lives, but it is real and useful, no matter what others say. If appropriately used, mindfulness is an excellent concept for an engaged, happy, content, and tranquil life. It may also look like a derivative of a Buddhist or Zen teaching, for others.
So what is it, and what is it not?
Mindfulness means paying attention to the moment, which sounds easy, but it is more than that. Being in the flow with joy, awareness, compassion, and kindness make it unique.
Our attention is discrete. Mindfulness is to switch from half-conscious attention to full purposeful attention. The mind works on autopilot, meaning that we react to external stimuli instead of responding to them. Our rational choices make only 6% of our decisions, and the rest is subconscious.
Thus, mental programming, consisting of our personality and cultural lenses and unconscious biases, drive our reactions. Therefore most of our behaviors are actions on autopilot. This is not a good way to use our free will.
Moreover, our inner chatter clouds our mind and disconnect us from the present moment. We think about the past and the future with an emotional attachment when triggered by external stimuli. That makes us a puppet of external influencers. We may be physically present without presence.
Mindfulness is not meditation, but meditation is one of the tools to master mindfulness. Mindfulness is the result of tranquilizing the monkey mind, silencing the inner-judge, and making peace between the ego and conscience. It is not enjoying the moment, but being in the moment as the first one is about the fun part of it. However, mindfulness is like a river pouring into an ocean that loses its identity as a result of unifying with an expansive identity.
I guess it is enough about mindfulness.
Here are the 9 attitudes you need to develop before you master mindfulness. You can also use the list below to test whether you mastered mindfulness or not.
- Beginner`s mind — the ability to look afresh at new experiences. We cannot know everything in life. Life is like an infinite ocean with many new things waiting to be discovered in every breath. It is a show unfolding its miracles for those who can see it. One has to be a silent witness to be able to see these miracles. Children are the greatest examples of beginner`s mind. Look at how they are fascinated by unfamiliarity while adults avoid leaving their comfort zones. They are open to discover the world without the limitations, biases, suppositions, assumptions, and preconceptions of their adults.
- Curiosity — showing interest in new experiences and investigating new opportunities. It is about possessing a friendly curiosity about whatever is happening, cultivating an inquisitive frame of mind, and being amazed. It is our curiosity that helped us make inventions and discover the world and space. `I have no special talents; I am only passionately curious` — Einstein
- Non-judgement- perceiving things and people as they are free from emotional attachments. Our minds react to external stimuli on autopilot in light of acquired behaviors triggered by our mental programming, that is our meaning. There is a way to intervene and stop this automatic process. When we get hold of our strong emotions, take a breath, and pause to let our neo-cortex kick-in to equalize the game, we create a little space between what is happening and what we think or feel about it. Nothing is as it seems. The world and every phenomenon in the cosmos are neutral. We call it, the Truth. Our mind map, made of our meaning, perceives the neutral reality as good or bad, right or wrong, fair and unfair, beautiful, and ugly. Thus, we create our reality and bend the Truth. There is one Truth, but there are as many realities as the number of people in the world. Judgment is not bad as long as it serves us to understand the world, but it will cloud our mind when it starts labeling, discriminating, and accusing. We need to divorce experience from judgment, peel mental labels, and experience life more clearly.
- Acceptance — allowing yourself, others, and conditions to be as they are without any effort to change them. Our judgmental mind distracts us from the present moment by internal storytelling and the inner chatter. Acceptance allows us to stay with whatever is happening without any efforts to change it. It is welcoming and embracing things and people as they are. The autopilot mode of the mind creates a sense of resistance, and we forget we have a choice. There are both good and evil in the world. They will exist as long as the known universe continues to exist. Nonexistence of duality means oneness, which is a pre-Big Bang state we cannot understand. Pain is certain then, but suffering is optional. A mindful approach accepts without resistance and judgment, enabling better decision-making without getting stuck in the whirlpool of negative emotions.
- Patience — knowing to wait for life to unveil its miracles in their own time. It is the ability to meet life`s setbacks with equanimity, compassion, and even joy instead of hatred, resentment, regret, and anger. Modernity pushes for speed, pleasure, and consumption, creating a false sense of urgency. Mostly, hurrying does not serve any purpose other than creating chronic stress. Speed does not mean results. Pleasure does not mean happiness. Consumption does not mean satisfaction. Patience is not tolerating what we do not like, but it is about embracing the pain and waiting for the right time for things to happen. It is an active effort to do our best, leave the rest, and trust the holy plan to unfold.
- Trust — believing in yourself, the others, life, and the divine order to bring you whatever you need. We need to stop self-doubt and believe in our true potential. Trust your skills, gifts, and abilities to realize your dreams. Trust in the wisdom of life and feel deep inside your heart that you are protected- whether things happen the way we like them or not. Life brings what our souls need; not the needs of our ego. Our wishes come true as long as they are in line with our spiritual needs. Trust the generosity of life. Trust the divine order and have faith in divine justice. Nothing happens without justice in the cosmos. We pay the prices of our bad karmas and enjoy the rewards of the good ones without mostly noticing the way the divine order works. We happen to realize it later on.
- Letting go — having a tendency to hold on to thoughts and emotions, opinions, and beliefs. Attachment to our possessions, beloved ones, even our passions will lead to our destruction unless we know to live a nonattached life. Attachment makes us a slave of our uncontrollable emotions. We have a false sense of control as if we can control everything, but the reality is that we cannot control many things. Then we better plan as less and live more. Our emotions come and go like the changeable weather, and the best is to learn to live with it by adapting.
- Non-striving — doing your best as you can without a rush and leaving the rest. It is the opposite of pushing for results endlessly. Modernity created an illusion of a false competition among us, and nothing is enough for us. Even when we reach a goal, we are asked why we could not do better. We sacrifice good for the sake of the best. Nevertheless, `the best` is a moving target that slips from our hands every time we approach it, but there is no progress without chasing it. Then we better do our best and leave the rest.
- Compassion — being kind to others and also to yourself. It creates a sense of interconnectedness with others, the world, and the cosmos. We notice our failings and our struggles with benevolence and understanding. Compassion also helps us notice and understand others’ pain and discern that we are all different actors of this worldly theater. We understand our one source and our common destination and see each other not as competitors, but as companions. We dare to face the reality of the situations surrounding us, how tough they could be. Compassion is living a non-dual and non-judgmental life.
What a list. Isn`t it? It is a list of high-virtues indeed. But it does not keep us away from striving to learn them and become a role model of inspiration.
Start with a beginner`s mind, and the rest will come. Mindfulness is useful to live a peaceful, loving, happy life.
Fortune 500 Corporate leader, spiritual coach, published author, & futurist. Kenan Kolday is an Industrial Engineer with an MBA and is recognized as an accomplished leader with 23 years of experience in global companies. In light of his life mission to make a meaningful difference in others' lives for a better world, he published 7 books, spent 20,000+ hours in spiritual development, coached others for 2000+ hours, delivered 120+ seminars, and led 3 start-ups & 2 transitions. Read his ROBOT WITH A SOUL TRILOGY to discover future trends and the path to self-mastery. The book unites philosophy, science, and theology, including the ancient wisdom of Hindu and Buddhist sages. too. Visit https://www.kenankolday.com/shop for all his books.