Mindfulness isn’t safe
You’ve read in your newsfeed, ‘Mindfulness isn’t safe.’. You’re fascinated but it’s a bit scary.
Is it safe to think? Mindfulness is living with awareness. It’s what we are designed to do. If we don’t live with mindful awareness we will miss signs of danger, threat, and if our ancestors had missed them we would not be here. Beyond our survival, being unaware risks missing the wonders of life, the opportunities around us and the love we are surrounded with. We reach our end only to regret living a life half-awake.
How long has Mindfulness been around?
Thousands of years. Perhaps as long as conscious life. Without awareness, the hunter becomes the hunted, or the prey escapes altogether and the tribe goes hungry. To be still, present in the moment, totally mindful of our bodies.
It is an ability we share with much of the world around us. It’s not magic, nor difficult nor some mystic pathway for just a few ‘special’ folk who we can then put on a pedestal and use as an excuse to not even try. (I can never be as good as …….)
Think of a herd of deer, grazing one minute, in flight the next, then returning to grazing when the danger has passed.
This is the state of mindful awareness, responding then returning to quiet awareness. So mindfulness itself can hardly be unsafe.
If it’s a normal response why might someone find it unsafe?
Some of the people around us may not want us to be awake and aware, they may not like the choices we make because we are being mindful but that’s another issue.
So why are the media claiming it is unsafe? That’s how journalists sell articles. Build up a therapy as the miracle cure for every ill in the world, then tear it all down as something only fools or the undiscerning do. The cycle of selling copy.
One consequence of this is that we forget the skills we already have, believe the hype, enrol on the latest fashion gig without thinking it through and are disappointed, We forgot that our bodies have built-in defence mechanisms. There is a lot we can survive and deal with, indeed do, every day.
If we are depressed take a look here https://www.google.co.uk/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#, struggling with addictive behaviour, dealing with bereavement or chronic illness and pain the way in which we are taught mindfulness may need to be adapted. If we find ourselves lost in painful emotions or traumatic memories when we meditate then we can learn how to be safe in our own lives and adjust our practice to achieve that.
The Hidden wisdom that’s not so hidden
We know that the person at work we describe as a “pain in the neck” is a potential source of our headaches. Not because they are actually causing them but because our response to them is one of distress. Our distress. Somehow they are pushing our buttons and it feels painful. To change that means we need to pay attention – be mindful and aware of how we are responding to them. And that takes effort, hard work and some commitment. So we go seeking after the quicker solution, the one that doesn’t involve us in any change or discomfort.
To spend time sitting with our responses to that person, recognising that we stiffen our neck when that person appears. We need to try to understand why we do that, how the stiffness arises and then see if we can change our response. When we change our response we change everything, our biology, chemistry, physiology, immune response and most importantly our relationship with that person. Mindfulness, heartfulness, allows us space and provides the tools and training to begin that process so we can become the change we want to see in our lives.
Mindfulness isn’t safe – it changes things – but perhaps we need to change?