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GRATITUDE & GENEROSITY: 9 Attitudinal Foundations of Mindfulness

Gratitude allows us to be aware of the wonder and abundance of the present moment and not take things for granted: I am alive – I am breathing – all of my internal organs are working together in harmony without my intervention to keep me alive.
Generosity brings joy to others as it is a manifestation that you care and are present for them.
Gratitude and generosity enhance our interconnectedness with one another.

By: Jon Kabbat-Zinn

Let’s start with Gratitude. The word itself is so vast and encompasses so many different aspects of life that we can be grateful for.

I know that for me, in the past, it was challenging to feel grateful if I was tangled up in a story of stress. I just couldn’t find any space to experience gratitude if I was feeling upset, stressed out or overwhelmed.

I have since learned, through practicing mindfulness, that I have the capacity to expand my awareness to include EVERYTHING! Meaning, my experience of life doesn’t have to be black or white/either/or/good or bad but I can expand to include ALL OF IT!!!

So I might be having a hard day or experiencing some challenge or stress and at the same time, I can expand to include the beauty of the sunset, the smell of the Magnolias on our street, the affection of my little kitty and a hug from my husband – and really feel the gratitude for being alive EVEN if I am experiencing a challenging time.

And the truth is, that if we are paying attention, nothing stays the same anyway. It’s always changing from one moment to the next. One moment feeling gratitude. The next moment feeling something unpleasant……………like clouds passing by in the sky…………….you can’t hold onto a cloud……………a thought…………………a feeling……………….an emotion………………

And Generosity: There are so many ways we can express our generosity. We can be generous in how we offer our time and space to really be with someone and listen to them. Remember how it feels when someone has really been there for you deeply listening and not trying to fix or offer advice?

We can be generous with our resources, giving money to charities that are important to what we value.

There is generosity in giving time to helping others without expecting anything in return. We give generously of ourselves and in doing that what we get so much more in return.

That is the interconnectedness that naturally surrounds us when we practice Gratitude and Generosity.

How do you experience Gratitude and Generosity in your life?

Notice how you feel when you are aware of being grateful……………or when you are unconditionally expressing generosity of your time, energy, resources, money, skills or talents.

I know that for me there is a felt sense experience of warmth and expansion and openness in my heart when I am in gratitude and expressing generosity.

As opposed to when I am feeling ungrateful or stingy and miserly, I feel contracted and shut down.


This concludes the series on the 9 Foundational Attitudes of Mindfulness.

Here is the list of the 9 mindful attitudes. A fun way to play with this is to take one a week and incorporate that attitude into your life for the entire week and see what happens.

LETTING GO: 9 Attitudinal Foundations of Mindfulness

By: Jon Kabbat-Zin

  • Letting go is a way of letting things be, of accepting things as they are.
  • We let things go and we just watch……………
  • If we find it particularly difficult to let go of something because it has such a strong hold on our mind, we can direct our attention to what ‘holding’ feels like. Holding on is the opposite of letting go. Being willing to look at the ways we hold on shows a lot about its opposite.

Sometimes it seems like a few of these foundational attitudes are similar in nature – and yet still subtly different. We can let go of something and still be challenged to accept it the way it is. Non-striving is similar to accepting – however, there still might be an action that is being taken with non-striving, but the attitude would be one of relaxing into the action and no expectations of what the outcome might be.

So what is the subtle difference between letting go and acceptance? Sometimes I can let go of the need to be right. And at the same time not necessarily accept “that person’s” pontification! Notice that there is also judgment there with labeling “that person’s” communication as “pontification”! Just making a point here that the mindfulness journey of discovery is one that invites us to engage with playful curiosity and gentle inquiry into our thoughts, feelings, and emotions, without judging ourselves.

So back to letting go. I can remember holding onto this thought that “He/She should have acknowledged and thanked me for all the time I gave/volunteered to help their business endeavors. This was a tough one that I had a very hard time letting go of. Thoughts of anger would traipse through my brain at regular intervals. I was really gnawing on this bone! Finally, I sat with the feeling of “being unacknowledged”. WOW! That triggered some very old childhood stuff that I was able to really see and feel and integrate and……….yes……..finally………let go! However, I would not have been able to let go until I took the time to sit with the painful feelings that were evoked in me. And along with the integration was a great insight that I was looking for acknowledgment in all the wrong places! Outside of myself, instead of inside myself. (Sound familiar? Looking for love in all the wrong places!!!)

I also have learned to let go of my business marketing offers. Meaning, I put it out there through my various marketing avenues – and do a follow up if necessary – and then I let it go.

My husband and I recently tried twice to book our trip to the Big Island. I have already paid for the accommodations. But the first dates we chose I realized would not work as I intuited we would have to move out for termite tenting. And yes, that turned out to be true. Then we rescheduled the dates and picked new ones. I found out a month later that the Iron Man Triathlon was going on the date we chose to leave back to CA so we redid our departure date to the following date and my friend on the Big Island said that is the WORST day to leave the Big Island is the day after the Iron Man – as everyone from every country is at the airport leaving! So we said okay, let’s forget this time period entirely. We have now picked hopefully our third and final dates in May! Just saying, sometimes you have to let go and go with the flow and make other arrangements instead of “striving” to make something happen.

Please tell me about your journey and discovery of letting go.

ACCEPTANCE: 9 Attitudinal Foundations of Mindfulness

Jon Kabbat-Zinn’s definition:

  • Seeing things as they actually are in the present. If you have pain, accept that you have some pain right now and respond mindfully from there.
  • Denying what is and forcing what we want, wastes energy creates tension and prevents positive change from occurring.
  • Now is the only time we have for anything. You have to accept yourself as you are before you can really change.
  • Acceptance is not passive; it does not mean you have to like everything and abandon your principles and values. It does not mean you have to be resigned to tolerating things. It does not mean that you should stop trying to break free of your own self-destructive habits or give up your desire to change and grow.
  • Acceptance is a willingness to see things as they are. You are much more likely to know what to do and have an inner conviction to act when you have a clear picture of what is actually happening.

I can remember times when I was slightly injured or had a pain in some part of my body.  Because I used to be so attached to exercising and working out, I would be in denial and continue to work out and exercise much to the detriment of my health and wellbeing – as my pain or injury inevitably got much worse.

  

Here is a funny/silly story: my husband and I have a made up rule in the summer, which is that from June-September we are allowed one soft serve ice cream at Dairy Queen per month.  So a couple of weeks ago we were anticipating our first ice cream cone of the season by going to our local Dairy Queen. We arrived and much to our disappointment – the business had closed – for good!!! Now what? Well, we were so attached to getting this ice cream cone that we went to a soft-serve yogurt shop by our Trader Joes. Guess what? They had a sign on the window saying “Closed for Father’s Day”. Oh, but we were not to be deterred. I got on the internet and did a Google Search for Dairy Queens in our area. There was one listed in a part of town that was a bit of a drive – between 20 and 30 minutes. So off we went – and as we got close to where it was – we missed the street to turn on to.  We drove around and around and drove back to where we came from and finally realized that it was in one of those huge shopping malls. So we drive into the parking lot and realize we would have to park and walk all over this mall to find the darn place!!! Now at this point, we have been driving around for over an hour looking for this Dairy Queen. I was getting irritated and annoyed and was snapping at my husband to just let it go and let’s go home. But he was determined and found a Baskin Robbins place not too far from the shopping mall. So we finally had our ice cream cone – albeit not a soft serve. And was it enjoyable? Actually, no it wasn’t!!!! By that time I was so burned out by driving around in the car looking for a frickin’ ice cream cone that it took the delight out of our usual fun monthly ice cream rendezvous.Sometimes I have been disappointed or frustrated by how things are going in my business. But instead of acknowledging and accepting that things are not turning out how I would like; I have had a tendency in the past to override that. Instead I, will plow ahead and keep trying to make “something” work. Like spinning in place going nowhere. However, it’s not until I stop, tune in and sit with feeling the disappointment – and become aware of whatever else that triggers in me, that I am then able to let it go and calmly take action from wise discernment.

How about you? What is easy for you to accept? Where do you fight with life?

 

NON-STRIVING: 9 Attitudinal Foundations of Mindfulness

Jon Kabbat-Zinn’s definition of Non-Striving:

  • Meditation has no goal other than for you to be yourself. The irony is you already are. I would add: Being alive has no other goal than for you to be yourself!
  • Paying attention to simply whatever is happening in the moment rather than ‘trying to get anywhere’ or ‘accomplish anything’ but the investigation itself.
  • If you are thinking ‘I am going to get relaxed this time’, this introduces an idea into your mind of where you should be and along with that comes the notion that you are not okay as you are right now.

 In our lives we can practice non-striving, or non-doing, just allowing things to be as they are without trying to change anything. The way I relate to this is that of course we are still going to have goals and things we want to accomplish. But how are we going about it? And if things are not turning out the way we think they should, how do we respond? Are we pushing the river when it is clear that something is off or just not working? Are we able to let go and just let things happen rather than pushing to make things happen?

It reminds me of “Wu-Wei” the Taoist definition non –doing:  Wu Wei is an important concept of Taoism and means natural action, or in other words, action that does not involve struggle or excessive effort. Wu Wei is the cultivation of a mental state in which our actions are quite effortlessly in alignment with the flow of life.

In practicing meditation and in life, non-striving means to be nothing more than who you are moment to moment. If you are feeling sad – feel sad without striving to be happy. If you are angry and frustrated – be angry and frustrated without striving to change it. If you are restless and agitated while meditating then that is what is happening – no need to try and make yourself be relaxed and at ease. So I see this as being with what is moment to moment. Sounds easy but in practice it can be challenging as we are always “striving” to have things be different than they are!

I know I have had many moments of going against the flow of life while striving for a goal or something I wanted to have happen. And with it came suffering and frustration.

Non – Striving is when I sit down to write a blog, newsletter or a talk and the words are flowing effortlessly. However there have been times I sit down to write and it is an effort. I can’t concentrate or focus and keep looking at Facebook as a diversion and still keep coming back to write, get frustrated and go back and look at Facebook again………..in those moments it would be so much more productive to just go and take a walk at the beach or play with my cat because it just is not happening!

Or I have pushed myself to clean the house or cook food when I am tired and I leave something out of the dish I am preparing or overcook it and burn the pan or crash into the furniture with the vacuum and dent the table. Striving to reach a goal when it is just not in the flow is striving and swimming upstream.

How about you? When are you in the flow of life and when are you striving to make something happen? What are the occasions when you strive to have a different experience than the one you are having?

TRUST: 9 Attitudinal Foundations of Mindfulness

  •  Developing a basic trust in yourself, your feelings, and inner resources.
  • Trusting in your inner wisdom and intuition, even if you don’t always get it right.
  • If something doesn’t feel right, honor your feelings.

As defined by Jon Kabbat –Zinn.

When I think about how Trust shows up in my life, I am reminded of so many different aspects of Trust and what they mean to me.

There’s trusting my gut level feelings about people, activities, environments, movies, restaurants…………there have been countless times that I either followed by gut-level feelings about one of these things and was able to confirm why I felt that way later – OR I didn’t trust or follow my gut level feelings and was sorry I didn’t.

I used to do psychic readings with tarot cards. In order for a reading to produce effective information or insight, I had to trust my gut level feelings and intuitions about the client, and their questions and concerns.

There is the kind of trust that shows up when you meet someone for the first time. You can get a feel for someone even though you may not know them well by trusting your intuition.

There is the general kind of trust of trusting life itself. That everything will work out – even if at the time it doesn’t seem like things are going your way, you still trust that you will be okay.

It’s like trusting that even if things do not turn out as intended, expected or desired, we trust the process. Perhaps we learned valuable lessons or skills even if we did not get what we thought we wanted

There is underlying trust that our bodies have the wisdom to do their job. Without our even being aware of the hundreds of processes that occur daily within our own body’s that keep us alive.

Have you ever noticed that people who seem to trust the process of life and have a basic trust in the goodness of people are generally happier than those who are distrustful of other people and themselves?

There is a fine line between blindly trusting and naiveté. So I guess we have to trust our own inner wisdom to discern the difference.

How do you experience trust in your life?