Becoming more aware of our thoughts, our emotions and our feelings might not sound like a solution to any problems or struggles we may be having. Learning how to do this in a way that suspends self criticism and further layers of difficulty or stress, opens up greater perspective in our lives which has a transformative effect. Often we end up feeling like we are ‘running to catch up with ourselves’, having being ‘swept away’ by the current of thoughts, emotions and worries, even our responsibilities. It can be very hard to know how to change all this and the danger is that such patterns end up re enforcing themselves and determining how we respond in the future, thus binding us to an unhelpful cycle. The practice of mindfulness helps us to directly work with all this allowing us to change things we are not happy with, even change our lives!
With mindfulness we are concerned with noticing what’s going on here in the moment. We notice what we are experiencing with a deeper fuller awareness so we don’t get stuck by that or upset by that, we don’t try and force our experience away because we want to experience something more pleasant. In being mindful we observe what is there with awareness and kindness, we begin to relate to difficulties differently, without getting stuck in them or reacting to them. In this way we can change.
The practice of and benefits of mindfulness originally come from the Buddhist tradition. The Buddha talked about mindfulness in four specific ways, he talked about the ‘four foundations of mindfulness’. In the course we will be fully exploring these aspects of mindfulness and drawing out how they are relevant to us today.
The first foundation is mindfulness of rúpa or the physical body, the second is vedaná or feelings and emotions, the third is citta which means our minds and the fourth is mindfulness of the world around us, of other people and of reality itself.
If we develop mindfulness and establish it as a quality in our lives it harmonizes and unifies every aspect of our being, we become much more aware and responsive to ourselves, others and the world we live in. But we have to experience and live mindfulness to understand what it is.