Mindfulness is the ground from which we engage life and offer our caring.
“Mindfulness is a pause – the space between the stimulus and the response: that’s where the choice lies…..There are some things we can’t choose, but in being present we can choose how we want to relate to them.” Tara Brach
Without the foundation of “mindfulness,” we might never slow down from our hectic-paced life and listen and notice what is actually happening. “Being present” requires inner stability, grounding awareness and easeful acceptance that are enhanced through the practice of “focussed attention.” This concentration skill leads to ease, openness and insight, where we learn to meet another’s truth, free of personal agendas or judgment.
In the Zen tradition, the skill of mindfulness is sometimes called, the “backward step” where our daily practice teaches us to slow down and pause. We learn to notice our thoughts, feelings, etc., as they arise. By staying in this moment, we can see them more clearly and also let them go. Scientific research supports how mindfulness “rewires” our capacity for greater happiness and compassion. With practice, we can train our “wandering mind,” that focusses more on worry, fear, inadequacy and self judgment, to bend gently towards ease and well being.
Self and Other Compassion that awakens Fearlessness
“Fearlessness comes from working with the softness of the human heart.” Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
Insights from Buddhism psychology and from modern-day neuroscience and psychology explore how we create or become attached to our personal “story,” which can lead us to suffering. Fearless compassion begins with our ability to stay present with our most uncomfortable states, to understand them and to let go of them in favour of a more healthier state. This is especially important with respect to how we feel towards our selves. Self Compassion is born from our ability to be kind, loving, and forgiving towards these sources of suffering within our selves and our relationships with others.
Being fearless, being willing to accept, forgive, release and transform unhealthy states, while affirming our innate goodness and the goodness in others, leads to compassion for everyone. With the courage to be tender towards our own suffering, we are better able to have the necessary deep empathy to create an authentic experience of interconnectedness. This establishes a “resonant attunement” and trust between us and those we support.
Self and Other Responsibility and Intention
“Wherever we go, wherever we remain, the results of actions follow us.” Gautama Buddha
Holding each one accountable for our actions is at the heart of healthy caregiving and community life.
Conflict may easily arise when we feel our “needs” or our concerns have not been heard. Through the foundation and skills of mindfulness come a responsibility for our intentions and motivations and these form the basis of our actions. By meeting our own reactions and the reactions of others with compassion, we can touch new possibilities for conflict resolution and harmony in relationships.
Openness and Transparency in Communication & Community Life
“If you are telling the truth, then you can speak gently and your words will have power.” Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
We live and work in complex organizations and institutions where there can be strife. “Mindful Listening” skills and practices expand our awareness to the “relational” world, where we can use empathy and sensitivity to look deeply at what occurs in our relationships. It begins with trusting in our shared humanity and common intentions. Then, we can witness the struggles born from defensiveness and blame and explore listening free of judgement. It is this process of moving from our sense of separateness to a mutual connection that allows for us to accept what may appear as unacceptable or difficult and then choose to remain open to find solutions.
Interdependence and Environmental Stewardship
“The true miracle is not walking on water or walking in the air, but simply walking on this earth.” Thich Nhat Hahn
Recognizing that we actually rely on others for everything we do in life may be counter-intuitive in a world that can appear to value individualism. Yet, if you look closely, everything depends on something from others. Nothing exists alone. This principle of interdependence reminds us to look at our words, thoughts, and actions, and how they will affect future generations. Respect for the Earth and all living beings is about becoming a “parent” to all of life rather than to our family alone.