Jon Kabat-Zinn (born 1944) is an American professor emeritus of medicine and the creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Wikipedia
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Live with awareness
- Practice moment to moment non-judgemental awareness.
- Awareness is bigger than thinking because it can hold thought as well.
- Awareness is not the same as thinking. It is a complementary form of intelligence, a way of knowing that is at least as wonderful and as powerful, if not more so, than thinking.
- Awareness is not the same as thought. It lies beyond thinking, although it makes no use of thinking, honoring it’s value and it’s power. Awareness is more like a vessel which can hold and contain our thinking, helping us to see and know our thought as thought rather than getting caught up in them as reality.
- I’m challenging everybody on every side of every divide to be more who they are, to cultivate their capacity for awareness.
- If we learn how to inhabit now more – with awareness – then it’s almost as if the universe becomes your teacher. Because there’s no boundary to awareness.
- It is the awareness that is of primary importance, no matter what the objects are that we are paying attention to.
- It is what makes us human, what distinguishes us from other animals. We can be aware of being aware.
- Living in a chronic state of unawareness can cause us to miss much of what is most beautiful and meaningful in our lives.
- Simply put, mindfulness is moment-to-moment non-judgmental awareness.
- There are certain ways in which I cultivate awareness, both through mindful yoga and taking care of my body and taking time to actually drop as deeply as possible into stillness, into whatever is unfolding in the present moment.
- TRY: Asking yourself in this moment, Am I awake?, Where is my mind right now?
- When awareness embraces the senses, it enlivens them.
- You could think of mindfulness as wise and affectionate attention.
- If we are unaware of what we are doing a good deal of the time, and we don’t particularly like the way things turn out in our lives, perhaps it’s time to pay closer attention, to be more in touch, to observe the choices we make and their consequences down the road.
- If we hope to go anywhere or develop ourselves in any way, we can only step from where we are standing. If we don’t really know where we are standing… We may only go in circles.
- Intelligence is the door to freedom and alert attention is the mother of intelligence.
- Paying attention and awareness are universal capacities of human beings.
- The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.
- When we commit ourselves to paying attention in an open way, without falling prey to our own likes and dislikes, opinions and prejudices, projections and expectations, new possibilities open up and we have a chance to free ourselves from the straitjacket of unconsciousness.
- When you pay attention to boredom it gets unbelievably interesting.
Attention is powerful
- Science is now documenting that it’s not the objects of meditation that are important, it’s the process of paying attention to them – the attending – that actually influences the organism in a whole range of different ways. The brain changes significantly enough to impact thought, emotion, and other biological functions. Today, people recognize that they’re not going to find well-being from the outside, or from a pill; they’re going to find it by looking inside. All the suffering, stress, and addiction comes from not realizing you already are what you are looking for.
Be in the present moment
- The only time that any of us have to grow or change or feel or learn anything is in the present moment. But we’re continually missing our present moments, almost willfully, by not paying attention.
- The only time you ever have in which to learn anything or see anything or feel anything, or express any feeling or emotion, or respond to an event, or grow, or heal, is this moment, because this is the only moment any of us ever gets. You’re only here now; you’re only alive in this moment.
- The only way we have of influencing the future is to own the present, however we find it.
- The present is the only time that we have to know anything.
- There can be no resolution leading to growth until the present situation has been faced completely and you have opened to it with mindfulness, allowing the roughness of the situation itself to sand down your own rough edges. In other words, you must be willing to let life itself become your teacher.
- There is just this moment. We are not trying to improve or to get anywhere else.
- To allow ourselves to be truly in touch with where we already are, no matter where that is, we have got to pause in our experience long enough to let the present moment sink in; long enough to actually feel the present moment, to see it in its fullness, to hold it in awareness and thereby come to know and understand it better.
- TRY: During the day, see if you can detect the bloom of the present moment in every moment, the ordinary ones, the in-between ones, even the hard ones. Work at allowing more things to unfold in your life without forcing them to happen and without rejecting the ones that don’t fit your idea of what should be happening. See if you can sense the spaces through which you might move with no effort in the spirit of Chuang Tzu’s cook. Notice how if you can make some time early in the day for being, with no agenda, it can change the quality of the rest of your day. By affirming first what is primary in your own being, see if you don’t get a mindful jump on the whole day and wind up more capable of sensing, appreciating, and responding to the bloom of each moment.
- We are simply inviting ourselves to interface with this moment in full awareness, with the intention to embody as best we can an orientation of calmness, mindfulness, and equanimity right here and right now.
- We take care of the future best by taking care of the present now.
- When I was talking to a reporter, she said, Oh, you mean to live for the moment. I said, No, it isn’t that. That has a hedonistic ring to it. I mean to live in the moment.
- You are only here now; you’re only alive in this moment.
Be here now
- Remind yourself that you are here now, and that when you get there, you will be there. If you miss the here, you are likely also to miss the there. If your mind is not centered here, it is likely not to be centered just because you arrive somewhere else.
- Arriving someplace more desirable at some future time is an illusion. This is it.
Embrace each moment as it is
- Each moment missed is a moment unlived.
- From the perspective of meditation, every state is a special state, every moment a special moment.
- Each difficult moment has the potential to open my eyes and open my heart.
- Give yourself permission to allow this moment to be exactly as it is, and allow yourself to be exactly as you are.
- In letting go of wanting something special to occur, maybe we can realize that something special is already occurring.
- Nourishing the soul is the process of drinking at the life stream, coming back to one’s true self, embracing the whole of one’s experience – good, bad, or ugly; painful or exalted; dull or boring.
- Stillness, insight, and wisdom arise only when we can settle into being complete in this moment, without having to seek or hold on to or reject anything.
- The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.
The future that we want – this is it
- The future that we want – this is it. This is the future of all the previous thoughts you’ve ever had about the future. You’re in it. You’re already in it. What is the purpose of all this living if it’s only to get some place else and then when you’re there you’re not happy anyway, you want to be some place else. It’s always for ‘when I retire,’ ‘when I graduate college,’ ‘when I make enough money,’ ‘when I get married,’ ‘when I get divorced,’ ‘when the kids move out.’ It’s like, wait a minute, this is it. This is your life. We only have moments. This moment’s as good as any other. It’s perfect.
Watch this moment
- Just watch this moment, without trying to change it at all. What is happening? What do you feel? What do you see? What do you hear?
Accept what is
- Guess what? When it comes right down to it, wherever you go, there you are. Whatever you wind up doing, that’s what you’ve wound up doing. Whatever you are thinking right now, that’s what’s on your mind. Whatever has happened to you, it has already happened. The important question is, how are you going to handle it? In other words, Now what?
- Healing is a coming to terms with things as they are, rather than struggling to force them to be as they once were, or as we would like them to be, to feel secure or to have what we sometimes think of as our own way.
- Once in awhile throughout the day…let go into full acceptance of the present moment, including how you are feeling and what you perceive to be happening… Give yourself permission to allow this moment to be exactly as it is, and allow yourself to be exactly as you are. Then, when you’re ready, move in the direction your heart tells you to go, mindfully and with resolution.
- Life only unfolds in moments. The healing power of mindfulness lies in living each of those moments as fully as we can, accepting it as it is as we open to what comes next—in the next moment of now.
Follow your own path
- Many paths can lead to understanding and wisdom. Each of us has different needs to address and things worth pursuing over the course of a lifetime. Each of us has to chart our own course, and it has to fit what we are ready for.
- Life on earth is a whole, yet it expresses itself in unique time-bound bodies, microscopic or visible, plant or animal, extinct or living. So there can be no one place to be. There can be no one way to be, no one way to practice, no one way to learn, no one way to love, no one way to grow or to heal, no one way to live, no one way to feel, no one thing to know or be known. The particulars count.
- Note that this journey is uniquely yours, no one else’s. So the path has to be your own. You cannot imitate somebody else’s journey and still be true to yourself. Are you prepared to honor your uniqueness in this way?
Let it be
- It’s not a matter of letting go—you would if you could. Instead of “Let it go,” we should probably say “Let it be.
- The next time you feel a sense of dissatisfaction, of something being missing or not quite right, turn inward as an experiment. See if you can capture the energy of that very moment. Instead of picking up a magazine or going to the movies, calling a friend or looking for something to eat or acting up in one way or another, make a place for yourself. Sit down and enter into your breathing, if only for a few minutes. Don’t look for anything – neither flowers not light nor a beautiful view. Don’t extol the virtues of anything or condemn the inadequacy of anything. Don’t even think to yourself, I am going inward now. Just sit. Reside at the center of the world. Let things be as they are.
- When we can be centered in ourselves, even for brief periods of time in the face of the pull of the outer world, not having to look elsewhere for something to fill us up or make us happy, we can be at home wherever we find ourselves, at peace with things as they are, moment by moment.
Let it go
- See for yourself whether letting go when a part of you really wants to hold on doesn’t bring a deeper satisfaction than clinging.
- The astonishing thing, so counterintuitive, is that nothing else needs to happen. We can give up trying to make something special occur. In letting go of wanting something special to occur, maybe we can realize that something very special is already occuring – namely, your life unfolding in each moment in awareness.
- To let go means to give up coercing, resisting, or struggling, in exchange for something more powerful and wholesome which comes out of allowing things to be as they are without getting caught up in your attraction to or rejection of them, in the intrinsic stickiness of wanting, of liking and disliking. It’s akin to letting your palm open to unhand something you have been holding on to.
- When people say Let it go, what they really mean is Get over it, and that’s not a helpful thing to say. It’s not a matter of letting go – you would if you could. Instead of Let it go, we should probably say Let it be; this recognizes that the mind won’t let go and the problem may not go away, and it allows you to form a healthier relationship with what’s bothering you.
Be comfortable with not knowing
- It is useful at times to admit to yourself that you don’t know your way and to be open to help from unexpected places. Doing that makes available to you inner and outer energies and allies that arise out of your own soulfulness and selflessness.
- Remain open to not knowing, perhaps allowing yourself to come to the point of admitting, I don’t know, and then experimenting with relaxing a bit into this not knowing instead of condemning yourself for it. After all, in this moment, it may be an accurate statement of how things are for you.
- Acknowledging that sometimes, often at very crucial times, you really have no idea where you are going or even where the path lies. A the same time, you can very well know something about where you are now (even if it is knowing that you are lost, confused, enraged or without hope).
- Cultivate a beginner’s mind moment to moment.
- Can you question who you are? And are you comfortable with not knowing?
- Keeping that not knowing is the best way to interface between the known and the unknown at the kind of edge of creativity and science.
Feel your feelings
- Allow yourself to feel whatever you are feeling. […] Let go of the labels. Just feel what you are feeling, all the while cultivating moment-to-moment awareness, riding the waves of up and down, good and bad, weak and strong, until you see that they are all inadequate to fully describe your experience. Be with the experience itself. Trust in your deepest strength of all: to be present, to be wakeful.
- We must be willing to encounter darkness and despair when they come up and face them, over and over again if need be, without running away or numbing ourselves in the thousands of ways we conjure up to avoid the unavoidable.
- You might find that inside the sadness, the grief, the despair lies something else too. Lies some kind of beauty, some kind of humanity, human understanding that understands that things are impermanent that nothing stays the same. That there is loss, that it’s not possible to control the whole universe, that even in terms of our bodies that this is something that is to a large extent a mystery. But it’s not all ugly it’s not all black.
Surf the waves
- You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.
- There are always waves on the water. Sometimes they are big, sometimes they are small, and sometimes they are almost imperceptible. The water’s waves are churned up by the winds, which come and go and vary in direction and intensity, just as do the winds of stress and change in our lives, which stir up the waves in our minds.
Be at home in your skin
- It’s not that God, the environment, and other people cannot help us to be happy or find satisfaction. It’s just that our happiness, satisfaction, and our understanding, even of God, will be no deeper than our capacity to know ourselves inwardly, to encounter the world from the deep comfort that comes from being at home in one’s own skin, from an intimate familiarity with the ways of one’s own mind and body.
Tune the body
- So if we’re not in touch with the multiple dimensions of our own being (and there are many hidden dimensions to being embodied in a human lifetime for an unbelievably short period of time) then in fact we’re in some way trying to get somewhere and get all this doing done without tuning the apparatus. The greatest musicians with the greatest instruments in the world still tune first –to themselves and to each other.
- You can bring together the body’s various systems to fine tune the body and mind in order to navigate life’s ups and downs in a way that minimizes stress and maximizes well-being and satisfaction.
How we see things is key
- How we see and hold the full range of our experiences in our minds and in our hearts makes an enormous difference in the quality of this journey we are on and what it means to us. It can influence where we go, what happens, what we learn, and how we feel along the way.
- Research is showing that we can change our attitude, and thereby our relationship to our circumstances, in ways that can make a difference in our health and well-being, and possibly to our longevity.
- So it can be particularly helpful to keep in mind from moment to moment that it is not so much the stressors in our lives but how we see them and what we do with them, how we are in relationship to them, that determines how much we are at their mercy.
- Zen has an expression, nothing special. When you understand nothing special, you realize that everything is special. Everything’s special and nothing’s special. Everything’s spiritual and nothing’s spiritual. It’s how you see, it’s what eyes you’re looking through, that matters.
Die before you die
- He who dies before he dies does not die when he dies.
- In some ways, it’s as if you died and the world continued on. If you did die, all your responsibilities and obligations would immediately evaporate. Their residue would somehow get worked out without you. No one else can take over your unique agenda. It would die or peter out with you just as it has for everyone else who has ever died. So you don’t need to worry about it in any absolute way. If this is true, maybe you don’t need to make one more phone call right now, even if you think you do. Maybe you don’t need to read something just now, or run one more errand. By taking a few moments to die on purpose to the rush of time while you are still living, you free yourself to have time for the present. By dying now in this way, you actually become more alive now.
- The funny thing about stopping is that as soon as you do it, here you are. Things get simpler. In some ways, it’s as if you died and the world continued on. If you did die, all your responsibilities and obligations would immediately evaporate. Their residue would somehow get worked out without you.
- Perhaps ultimately, spiritual means experiencing wholeness and interconnectedness directly, a seeing that individuality and the totality are interwoven, that nothing is separate or extraneous, If you see in this way, then everything becomes spiritual in its deepest sense. Doing science is spiritual. So is washing the dishes. It is the inner experience which counts. And you have to be there for it.
- Interconnectedness is a fundamental principle of nature. Nothing is isolated. Each event connects with others.
- To drop into being means to recognize your interconnectedness with all life, and with being itself. Your very nature is being part of larger and larger spheres of wholeness.
- We resonate with one another’s sorrows because we are interconnected. Being whole and simultaneously part of a larger whole, we can change the world simply by changing ourselves. If I become a center of love and kindness in this moment, then in a perhaps small but hardly insignificant way, the world now has a nucleus of love and kindness it lacked the moment before. This benefits me and it benefits others.
- Perhaps we just need little reminders from time to time that we are already dignified, deserving, worthy. Sometimes we don’t feel that way because of the wounds and the scars we carry from the past or because of the uncertainty of the future. It is doubtful that we came to feel undeserving on our own. We were helped to feel unworthy. We were taught it in a thousand ways when we were little, and we learned our lessons well.
- See if you can give yourself gifts that may be true blessings, such as self-acceptance , or some time each day with no purpose. Practice feeling deserving enough to accept these gifts without obligation – to simply receive from yourself, and from the universe.
- You are whole and also part of larger and larger circles of wholeness you many not even know about. You are never alone. And you already belong. You belong to humanity. You belong to life. You belong to this moment, this breath.
- It is indeed a radical act of love just to sit down and be quiet for a time by yourself.
- The mind is like the Pacific Ocean. It waves, depending on the atmospheric conditions. But even when it’s at its most tumultuous, if you learn to drop down twenty or thirty feet under the water there is just gentle calmness and stillness. And it’s always present.
- …if you hope to mobilize your inner capacities for growth and for healing and to take charge in your life on a new level, a certain kind of effort and energy on your part will be required…. It will take conscious effort on your part to move in a direction of healing and inner peace. This means learning to work with the very stress and pain that is causing you to suffer.
- Peace is something that we can bring about if we can actually learn to wake up a bit more as individuals and a lot more as a species; if we can learn to be fully what we actually already are; to reside in the inherent potential of what is possible for us, being human.
- Patience is a form of wisdom. It demonstrates that we understand and accept the fact that sometimes things must unfold in their own time.
- Patience is an ever present alternative to the mind’s endemic restlessness and impatience. Scratch the surface of impatience and what you will find lying beneath it, subtly or not so subtly, is anger. It’s the strong energy of not wanting things to be the way they are and blaming someone (often yourself) or something for it. This doesn’t mean you can’t hurry when you have to. It is possible even to hurry patiently, mindfully, moving fast because you have chosen to.
- The heart of this whole thing is to begin to examine: ‘Well who am I?’
- Practice sharing the fullness of your being, your best self, your enthusiasm, your vitality, your spirit, your trust, your openness, above all, your presence. Share it with yourself, with your family, with the world.
Wake up with awareness
- When your alarm goes off and you jump out of bed, what is the nature of the mind in that moment? Are you already like, oh my God, your calendar pops into your mind and you’re driven already, or can you take a moment and just lie in bed and just feel your body breathing. And remember, oh yeah, brand new day and I’m still alive. So, I get out of bed with awareness, brush my teeth with awareness. When you’re in the shower next time check and see if you’re in the shower.
Presence with others
- It is healing simply to be heard, to be met, to be seen, to be known.
- As long as you are breathing, there is more right with you than there is wrong, no matter how ill or how hopeless you may feel.
- Anybody who is imitating somebody else, no matter who it us, is heading in the wrong direction. It is impossible to become like somebody else. Your only hope is to become more fully yourself.
- If you stop trying to make yourself more than you are, out of fear that you are less than you are, whoever you really are will be a lot lighter and happier and easier to live with, too.
- At the deepest level, there is no giver, no gift, and no recipient… only the universe rearranging itself.
- Genetically speaking, we are one people. The two most seemingly different people in the world are virtually identical from the point of their genes. At most, about one in a thousand nucleotides in our DNA are different between the blackest and the whitest, the tallest and the shortest of us. We are 99.9 percent the same. We are one tribe, one family, but have yet to recognize it. We humans are all intimately interconnected. How we treat each other matters to the health and well-being, perhaps even the survival, of us all as a species, not in some vague future, but in this very moment.
- Experiment with giving away this energy–in little ways at first–directing it toward yourself and toward others with no thought of gain or return. Give more than you think you can, trusting that you are richer than you think. Celebrate this richness. Give as if you had inexhaustible wealth. This is called kingly giving.
- Generosity is another quality which, like patience, letting go, non-judging, and trust, provides a solid foundation for mindfulness practice. You might experiment with using the cultivation of generosity as a vehicle for deep self- observation and inquiry as well as an exercise in giving. A good place to start is with yourself. See if you can give yourself gifts that may be true blessings, such as self- acceptance, or some time each day with no purpose. Practice feeling deserving enough to accept these gifts without obligation-to simply receive from yourself, and from the universe.
- Initiate giving. Don’t wait for someone to ask. See what happens – especially to you. You may find that you gain a greater clarity about yourself and about your relationships, as well as more energy rather than less. You may find that, rather than exhausting yourself or your resources, you will replenish them. Such is the power of mindful, selfless generosity. At the deepest level, there is no giver, no gift, and no recipient . . . only the universe rearranging itself.
- Maybe the fear is that we are less than we think we are, when the actuality of it is that we are much much more.
- Imagine how it might feel to suspend all your judging and instead to let each moment be just as it is, without attempting to evaluate it as “good” or “bad.” This would be a true stillness, a true liberation.
- When you dwell in stillness, the judging mind can come through like a foghorn. “I don’t like the pain in my knee…This is boring…I like this feeling of stillness; I had a good meditation yesterday, but today I’m having a bad meditation…It’s not working for me. I’m no good at this. I’m no good, period…” This type of thinking dominates the mind and weighs it down. It’s like carrying around a suitcase full of rocks on your head. It feels good to put it down. Imagine how it might feel to suspend all your judging and instead to let each moment be just as it is, without attempting to evaluate it as “good” or “bad.” This would be a true stillness, a true liberation. Meditation means cultivating a non-judging attitude toward what comes up in the mind, come what may.
- When you see and feel the sensations you are experiencing as sensations, pure and simple, you may see that these thoughts about the sensation are useless to you at that moment and that they can actually make things worse than they need be.
- Voluntary simplicity means going fewer places in one day rather than more, seeing less so I can see more, doing less so I can do more, acquiring less so I can have more.
Love and compassion
- If you believe in love, do you manifest it or just talk a lot? If you believe in compassion, in non-harming, in kindness, in wisdom, in generosity, in calmness, in solitude, in non-doing, in being even-handed and clear, do you manifest these qualities in your daily life? This is the level of intentionality which is required to keep your meditation practice vital.
- In Asian languages, the word for ‘mind’ and the word for ‘heart’ are same. So if you’re not hearing mindfulness in some deep way as heartfulness, you’re not really understanding it. Compassion and kindness towards oneself are intrinsically woven into it. You could think of mindfulness as wise and affectionate attention.
- Once you have established yourself as a center of love and kindness radiating throughout your being, which amounts to a cradling of yourself in loving kindness and acceptance, you can dwell here indefinitely, drinking at this fount, bathing it in, renewing yourself, nourishing yourself, enlivening yourself. This can be a profoundly healing practice for body and soul.
- Ultimately, it is only love that can give us insight into what is real and what is important. And so, a radical act of love makes sense—love for life and for the emergence of one’s truest self.
- Non-doing has nothing to do with being indolent or passive. Quite the contrary. It takes great courage and energy to cultivate non-doing, both in stillness and in activity. Nor is it easy to make a special time for non-doing and to keep at it in the face of everything in our lives which needs to be done.
Integrity and wholeness
- Perhaps the most “spiritual” thing any of us can do is simply to look through our own eyes, see with eyes of wholeness, and act with integrity and kindness.
- Allow your attention to gently alight on your belly, as if you were coming upon a shy animal sunning itself on a tree stump in a clearing in the forest. Feel your belly rise or expand gently on the inbreath, and fall or recede on the outbreath.
- A lot of harm has come in all eras from people attached to one view of ‘spiritual’ truth.
- All the suffering, stress, and addiction comes from not realizing you already are what you are looking for.
- Dying without actually fully living, without waking up to our lives while we have the chance, is an ongoing and significant risk.
- If we are to grasp the reality of our life while we have it, we will need to wake up to our moments. Otherwise, whole days, even a whole life, could slip past unnoticed.
- For men and women alike, this journey is a the trajectory between birth and death, a human life lived. No one escapes the adventure. We only work with it differently.
- Discipline provides a constancy which is independent of what kind of day you had yesterday and what kind of day you anticipate today.
- The word discipline comes from disciple, someone who is in a position to learn.
- By grounding yourself in mindfulness early in the morning, you are reminding yourself that things are always changing, that good and bad things come and go, and that it is possible to embody a perspective of of constancy, wisdom, and inner peace as you face any conditions that present themselves.
- Concentration is a cornerstone of mindfulness practice. Your mindfulness will only be as robust as the capacity of your mind to be calm and stable. Without calmness, the mirror of mindfulness will have an agitated and choppy surface and will not be able to reflect things with any accuracy.
- Cultivating mindfulness is not unlike the process of eating. It would be absurd to propose that someone else eat for you. And when you go to a restaurant, you don’t eat the menu, mistaking it for the meal, nor are you nourished by listening to the waiter describe the food. You have to actually eat the food for it to nourish you. In the same way, you have to actually practice mindfulness, by which I mean cultivate it systematically in your own life, in order to reap its benefits and come to understand why it is so valuable.
- If mindfulness is deeply important to you, then every moment is an opportunity to practice.
- If you’re not cultivating mindfulness, you’re cultivating reactivity.
- In any given moment we are either practicing mindfulness, or defacto, we are practicing mindlessness.
- Knowing what you are doing while you are doing it is the essence of mindfulness practice.
- Mindful inquiry can heal low self-esteem, for the simple reason that a low self-estimation is really a wrong calculation, a misperception of reality.
- Mindfulness as a practice provides endless opportunities to cultivate greater intimacy with your own mind and to tap into and develop your deep interior resources for learning, growing, healing, and potentially for transforming your understanding of who you are and how you might live more wisely and with greater well-being, meaning, and happiness in this world.
- Mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experience.
- Mindfulness is a way of being which involves bringing awareness to the unfolding of present experience, moment-to- moment, with curiosity, openness and acceptance. It involves a process of becoming more aware and accepting towards all your experiences—including the unpleasant ones.
- You could think of mindfulness as wise and affectionate attention.
- Mindfulness is a way of paying attention, on purpose and non-judgmentally, to what goes on in the present moment in your body, mind and the world around you.
- Mindfulness is a way to rebalance ourselves. Instead of being lost in thought, or caught up in emotional upheaval, we can tip the scale in the direction of greater equanimity, clarity, wisdom, and self-compassion by actually learning how to inhabit that other dimension of our being.
- Mindfulness is about being fully awake in our lives. It is about perceiving the exquisite vividness of each moment. We also gain immediate access to our own powerful inner resources for insight, transformation, and healing.
- Mindfulness is about love and loving life. When you cultivate this love, it gives you clarity and compassion for life, and your actions happen in accordance with that. All ethics and morality, and a sense of interconnectedness, come out of the act of paying attention.
- Mindfulness is about stopping and being present, that is all.
- Mindfulness is awareness and it’s cultivated by paying attention.
- Mindfulness is not about getting anywhere else.
- Mindfulness is often spoken of as the heart of Buddhist meditation. It’s not about Buddhism, but about paying attention. That’s what all meditation is, no matter what tradition or particular technique is used.
- Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose in the present moment without judgement.
- Mindfulness is so powerful that the fact that it comes out of Buddhism is irrelevant.
- Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.
- Mindfulness means moment-to-moment, non-judgmental awareness. It is cultivated by refining our capacity to pay attention, intentionally, in the present moment, and then sustaining that attention over time as best we can. In the process, we become more in touch with our life as it is unfolding.
- Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.
- Mindfulness practice means that we commit fully in each moment to be present; inviting ourselves to interface with this moment in full awareness, with the intention to embody as best we can an orientation of calmness, mindfulness, and equanimity right here and right now.
- Mindfulness practice means that we commit fully in each moment to being present. There is no performance. There is just this moment. We are not trying to improve or to get anywhere else. We are not even running after special insights or visions. Nor are we forcing ourselves to be non-judgmental, calm, or relaxed. And we are certainly not promoting self-consciousness or indulging in self-preoccupation. Rather, we are simply inviting ourselves to interface with this moment in full awareness, with the intentino to embody as best we can an orientation of calmness, mindfulness, and equanimity right here and now.
- Mindfulness: a simple and direct practice of moment-to-moment observation of the mind-body process through calm and focused awareness without judgment.
- Religion has traditionally been the domain of such fundamental inquiries within a spiritual framework, but mindfulness has little to do with religion, except in the most fundamental meaning of the word, as an attempt to appreciate the deep mystery of being alive and to acknowledge being vitally connected to all that exists.
- The challenge for mindfulness is to be present for your experience as it is rather than immediately jumping in to change it or try to force it to be different.
- The challenge of mindfulness is to work with the very circumstances that you find yourself in—no matter how unpleasant, how discouraging, how limited, how unending and stuck they may appear to be—and to make sure that you have done everything in your power to use their energies to transform yourself before you decide to cut your losses and move on.
- There are a lot of different ways to talk about mindfulness, but what it really means is awareness.
- When it comes right down to it, the challenge of mindfulness is to realize that this is it Right now is my life. The question is, What is my relationship to it going to be? Does my life just automatically happen to me? Am I a total prisoner of my circumstances or my obligations, of my body or my illness, or of my history? Do I become hostile or defensive or depressed if certain buttons get pushed, happy if other buttons are pushed, and frightened if something else happens? What are my choices? Do I have any options? We will be looking into these questions more deeply when we take up the subject of our reactions to stress and how our emotions affect our health. For now the important point is to grasp the value of bringing the practice of mindfulness into the conduct of our daily lives. Is there any waking moment of your life that would not be richer and more alive for you if you were more fully awake while it was happening?
- Whether we are basically healthy at the moment or have a terminal illness, none of us knows how long we have to live. Life only unfolds in moments. The healing power of mindfulness lies in living each of those moments as fully as we can, accepting it as it is as we open to what comes next—in the next moment of now.
- Mindful parenting is the hardest job on the planet, but it’s also one that has the potential for the deepest kinds of satisfactions over the life span, and the greatest feelings of interconnectedness and community and belonging.
- Above all, meditation is about letting the mind be as it is and knowing something about how it is in this moment. It’s not about getting somewhere else, but about allowing yourself to be where you already are.
- Another way to look at meditation is to view the process of thinking itself as a waterfall, a continual cascading of thought. In cultivating mindfulness we are going beyond or behind our thinking, much the way you might find a vantagepoint in a cave or depression in a rock behind a waterfall. We still see and hear the water, but we are out of the torrent.
- By repeatedly bringing your attention back to the breath each time it wanders off, concentration builds and deepens, much as muscles develop by repetitively lifting weights.
- I’ll take transformational change any way it comes. One way to look at meditation is as a kind of intrapsychic technology that’s been developed over thousands of years by traditions that know a lot about the mind/body connection. To call what happens ‘the placebo effect’ is just to give a name to something we don’t understand.
- In its outward manifestation, meditation appears to involve either stopping, by parking the body in a stillness that suspends activity, or giving oneself over to flowing movement. In either case, it is an embodiment of wise attention, an inward gesture undertaken for the most part in silence, a shift from doing to simply being. It is an act that may at first seem artificial but that we soon discover, if we keep at it, is ultimately one of pure love for the life unfolding within us and around us.
- In meditation practice, the best way to get somewhere is to let go of trying to get anywhere at all.
- Mindfulness meditation is the embrace of any and all mind states in awareness, without preferring one to another.
- It’s very important as a beginner that you understand right from the start that meditation is about befriending your thinking, about holding it gently in awareness, no matter what is on your mind in a particular moment. It is not about shutting off your thoughts or changing them in any way.
- Meditation is a way of being, not a technique. Meditation is not about trying to get anywhere else. It is about allowing yourself to be exactly where you are and as you are, and the world to be exactly as it is in this moment, as well.
- Meditation is like farming… the right soil is required to grow anything, nothing will grow if the soil is polluted by striving or pushing too hard.
- Meditation is an act of befriending your mind.
- The real meditation practice is how we live our lives from moment to moment to moment. Meditation is neither shutting things out nor off. It is seeing things clearly, and deliberately positioning yourself differently in relationship to them.
- Meditation is not about feeling a certain way. It’s about feeling the way you feel.
- Meditation is not aimed at developing a fine philosophy of life or mind. It is not about thinking at all. It is about keeping things simple. Right now, in this moment, do you see? Do you hear? This seeing, this hearing, when unadorned, is the recovery of original mind, free from all concepts, including “original mind.”
- The real meditative practice is to open up to the full range of what happens in life. And parenting is a fantastic arena for doing that kind of spiritual training. It’s as much a potential door into enlightenment as anything else.
- Meditation is not so concerned with how much thinking is going on as it is with how much room you are making for it to take place within the field of your awareness from one moment to the next.
- Meditation is really a non-doing. It is the only human endeavor I know of being where you already are.
- Meditation is simply about being yourself and know about who that is.
- Meditation is simply about being yourself and knowing something about who that is. It is about coming to realize that you are on a path whether you like it or not, namely, the path that is your life. Meditation may help us see that this path we call our life has direction; that it is always unfolding, moment by moment; and that what happens now, in this moment, influences what happens next.
- Meditation is the only intentional, systematic human activity which at bottom is about not trying to improve yourself or get anywhere else, but simply to realize where you already are.
- Meditation is the only intentional, systematic human activity which at bottom is about not trying to improve yourself or get anywhere else, but simply to realize where you already are.
- Meditation is the process by which we go about deepening our attention and awareness, refining them, and putting them to greater practical use in our lives.
- Meditation means learning how to get out of this current, sit by its bank and listen to it, learn from it, and then use its energies to guide us rather than to tyrannize us.
- Meditation means learning how to get out of this current, sit by its bank and listen to it, learn from it, and then use its energies to guide us rather than to tyrannize us. This process doesn’t magically happen by itself. It takes energy. We call the effort to cultivate our ability to be in the present moment “practice” or “meditation practice.”
- Meditation means learning how to get out of this current, sit by its bank and listen to it, learn from it, and then use its energies to guide us.
- Mindful sitting meditation is not an attempt to escape from problems or difficulties into some cut-off meditative state of absorption or denial. On the contrary, it is a willingness to go nose to nose with pain, confusion, and loss, if that is what is dominating the present moment, and to stay with the observing over a sustained period of time, beyond thinking.
- Most people think that to meditate, I should feel a particular special something, and if I don’t, then I must be doing something wrong.
- One way to look at meditation is as a kind of intrapsychic technology that’s been developed over thousands of years by traditions that know a lot about the mind/body connection.
- So when we make contact with the domain of being in the meditation practice, we are already, in a profound sense, beyond the scarring, beyond the isolation and fragmentation and suffering we may be experiencing.
- So, in meditation practice, the best way to get somewhere is to let go of trying to get anywhere at all.
- Thich Nhat Hanh, the venerable and highly respected Vietnamese meditation teacher, poet, and peace activist, uses the image of cloudy apple juice settling in a glass to describe meditation. You just sit with whatever is present, even discomfort, anxiety, or confusion, with whatever is present, and the mind settles all by itself.
- This is something called walking meditation. The goal is to learn to be aware of each and every movement and feeling. I know it seems ridiculous, but it does change the way you experience walking.
- When we let go of wanting something else to happen in this moment, we are taking a profound step toward being able to encounter what is here now. If we hope to go anywhere or develop ourselves in any way, we can only step from where we are standing. If we don’t really know where we are standing‚ knowing that comes directly from the cultivation of mindfulness‚ we may only go in circles, for all our efforts and expectations. So, in meditation practice, the best way to get somewhere is to let go of trying to get anywhere at all.
- It is virtually impossible, and senseless anyway, to commit yourself to a daily meditation practice without some view of why you are doing it, what its value might be in your life, a sense of why this might be your way and not just another tilting at imaginary windmills.
- If you hope to bring meditation into your life in any kind of long-term, committed way, you will need a vision that is truly your own—one that is deep and tenacious and that lies close to the core of who you believe yourself to be, what you value in your life, and where you see yourself going. Only the strength of such a dynamic vision and the motivation from which it springs can possibly keep you on this path year in and year out, with a willingness to practice every day and to bring mindfulness to bear on whatever is happening, to open to whatever is perceived, and to let it point to where the holding is and where the letting go and the growing need to happen.
- Meditation does not involve trying to change your thinking by thinking some more. It involves watching thought itself. The watching is the holding. By watching your thoughts without being drawn into them, you can learn something profoundly liberating about thinking itself, which may help you to be less of a prisoner of those thought patterns.
- It’s okay that the mind drifts away but you just bring it back.
- It’s the nature of the mind to drift away. The mind is like the Pacific Ocean, it waves. And mindfulness has been shown to drop underneath the waves. If you drop underneath the agitation in the mind, into your breath deep enough calmness, gentle undulations.
- Breathing is central to every aspect of meditation training. It’s a wonderful place to focus in training the mind to be calm and concentrated.
- It can feel as if the entire body has dropped away or has become transparent, as if its substance were in some way erased. It can feel as if there is nothing but breath flowing freely across all the boundaries of the body.
- It helps to have a focus for your attention, an anchor line to tether you to the present moment and to guide you back when the mind wanders. The breath serves this purpose exceedingly well. It can be a true ally. Bringing awareness to our breathing, we remind ourselves that we are here now, so we might as well be fully awake for whatever is already happening.
- It’s not about the breath, it’s about the awareness and the breath is simply a skillful means for befriending this deep capacity of the heart and mind.
- As you begin befriending your breath, you see immediately that unawareness is everywhere.
Transcending what limits us
- But when we start to focus in on what our own mind is up to, for instance, it is not unusual to quickly go unconscious again, to fall back into an automatic-pilot mode of unawareness. These lapses in awareness are frequently caused by an eddy of dissatisfaction with what we are seeing or feeling in that moment, out of which springs a desire for something to be different, for things to change.
- Because of this inner busyness, which is going on almost all the time, we are liable either to miss a lot of the texture of our life experience or to discount its value and meaning.
- Even though in principle we may know better, we routinely succumb all the same to the incessant, often frantic and unexamined busyness of thinking we have to get somewhere else first before we can rest; thinking we need to get certain things done to feel we have accomplished something before we can be happy.
- If we are not careful, it is all too easy to fall into becoming more of a human doing than a human being, and forget who is doing all the doing, and why.
- If we are not careful, it is all too easy to fall into becoming more of a human doing than a human being, and forget who is doing all the doing, and why.
- The funny thing about stopping is that as soon as you do it, here you are.
- We all tend to fill up our days with things that just have to be done and then run around desperately trying to do them all, while in the process not really enjoying much of the doing because we are too pressed for time, too rushed, too busy, too anxious? We can feel overwhelmed by our schedules, our responsibilities, and our roles at times, even when everything we are doing is important, even when we have chosen to do them all. We live immersed in a world of constant doing. Rarely are we in touch with who is doing the doing—or, put otherwise, with the world of being. To get back in touch with being is not that difficult. We only need to remind ourselves to be mindful. Moments of mindfulness are moments of peace and stillness, even in the midst of activity. When your whole life is driven by doing, formal meditation practice can provide a refuge of sanity and stability that can be used to restore some balance and perspective. It can be a way of stopping the headlong momentum of all the doing, giving yourself some time to dwell in deep relaxation and well-being and to remember who you are.
- If we are honest with ourselves, most of us will have to admit that we live out our lives in an ocean of fear.
- Pain is the sensations of discomfort that may be unavoidable; suffering is the ways we react to pain that just makes it worse. Jon Kabat-Zinn
- Pain, sickness helps us become embodied. The body calls you back into the body.
- The awareness is not part of the darkness or the pain; it holds the pain, and knows it, so it has to be more fundamental, and closer to what is healthy and strong and golden within you.
- If you let restlessness move you, you lose touch with who you are.
- Even before smart phones and the Internet, we had many ways to distract our selves. Now that’s compounded by a factor of trillions.
- From the point of view of the meditative traditions the entire society is suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
- If you look at people out on the street, if you look at people at restaurants, nobody’s having conversations anymore. They’re sitting at dinner looking at their phone, because their brain is so addicted to it.
- You can only look deeply into something if you can sustain your looking without being constantly thrown off by distractions or by the agitation of your own mind. The deeper your concentration, the deeper the potential for mindfulness.
Identification with thought
- It is remarkable how liberating it feels to be able to see that your thoughts are just thoughts and that they are not ‘you’ or ‘reality.’ For instance, if you have the thought that you have to get a certain number of things done today and you don’t recognize it as a thought but act as if it’s the ‘the truth,’ then you have created a reality in that moment in which you really believe that those things must all be done today.
- Nothing is to be clung to as I, me, or mine.
- I thought it was a stroke of genius that Hans Selye used the word stress, because it’s true that if you don’t know how to be in wise relationship to life, certain health consequences are bound to happen. If you stand up 12 hours a day on an assembly line, or constantly tell yourself life is not worth living, the body will respond in certain somewhat predictable ways.
- The mind that has not been developed or trained is very scattered. That’s the normal state of affairs, but it leaves us out of touch with a great deal in life, including our bodies.
- We tend to be particularly unaware that we are thinking virtually all the time. The incessant stream of thoughts flowing through our minds leaves us very little respite for inner quiet. And we leave precious little room for ourselves anyway just to be, without having to run around doing things all the time. Our actions are all too frequently driven rather than undertaken in awareness, driven by those perfectly ordinary thoughts and impulses that run through the mind like a coursing river, if not a waterfall. We get caught up in the torrent and it winds up submerging our lives as it carries us to places we may not wish to go and may not even realize we are headed for.
Projection onto others
- It is a form of violence, to not see a being for who he or she really is. You think, Oh, that’s my son. But the lens, my son, completely obliterates the multi- dimensions of that being. Maybe you only see your disappointments in that child, or you aspirations for that child, but that’s not the child.
- It’s almost impossible to really know someone. You have to get out of your own way an awful lot to not just see the projections on to that person of your own mind
- Look at other people and ask yourself if you are really seeing them or just your thoughts about them…. Without knowing it, we are coloring everything, putting our spin on it all.
- One practical way to do this is to look at other people and ask yourself if you are really seeing them or just your thoughts about them.
- We all have limitations. They are worth befriending. They teach us a lot. They can show us what we most need to pay attention to and honor. They become our cutting edge for learning and growing and gentling ourselves into the present moment as it is.
Ignoring the present moment
- The habit of ignoring our present moments in favor of others yet to come leads directly to a pervasive lack of awareness of the web of life in which we are embedded. This includes a lack of awareness and understanding of our own mind and how it influences our perceptions and our actions. It severely limits our perspective on what it means to be a person and how we are connected to each other and the world around us. Religion has traditionally been the domain of such fundamental inquiries within a spiritual framework, but mindfulness has little to do with religion, except in the most fundamental meaning of the word, as an attempt to appreciate the deep mystery of being alive and to acknowledge being vitally connected to all that exists.
- We are continuously bombarded with information, appeals, deadlines, communications… We are continually being squeezed or projected into the future as our present moments are assaulted and consumed in the fires of endless urgency.
Abuse of the body
- One very important domain of our lives and experience that we tend to miss, ignore, abuse, or lose control of as a result of being in the automatic pilot mode is our own body.
- Symptoms of illness and distress, plus your feelings about them, can be viewed as messengers coming to tell you something important about your body or about your mind. In the old days, if a king didn’t like the message he was given, he would sometimes have the messenger killed. This is tantamount to suppressing your symptoms or your feelings because they are unwanted. Killing the messenger and denying the message or raging against it are not intelligent ways of approaching healing. The one thing we don’t want to do is to ignore or rupture the essential connections that can complete relevant feedback loops and restore self-regulation and balance. Our real challenge when we have symptoms is to see if we can listen to their message and really hear them and take them to heart, that is, make the connection fully.
- That sentence is: Nothing is to be clung to as I, me, or mine. In other words, no attachments—especially to fixed ideas of yourself and who you are.
- You might be tempted to avoid the messiness of daily living for the tranquility of stillness and peacefulness. This of course would be an attachment to stillness, and like any strong attachment, it leads to delusion. It arrests development and short-circuits the cultivation of wisdom.
- As much as I can, I avoid using the word spiritual altogether. I find it neither useful nor necessary nor appropriate in my work at the hospital bringing mindfulness into the mainstream of medicine and healthcare, nor in other settings in which we work[.] [T]o my mind, the vocabulary of spirituality creates more practical problems than it solves. […] The concept of spirituality can narrow our thinking rather extend it.
- But you cannot have harmony without a commitment to ethical behavior. It’s the fence that keeps out the goats that will eat all the young shoots in your garden.
- Karma is often wrongly confused with the notion of a fixed destiny. It is more like an accumulation of tendencies that can lock us into particular behavior patterns, which themselves result in further accumulations of tendencies of a similar nature… But is is not necessary to be a prisoner of old karma.
- Too much of the education system orients students toward becoming better thinkers, but there is almost no focus on our capacity to pay attention and cultivate awareness.
- Any really good scientist is as much an artist as a scientist. All the interesting stuff is found on the edge between knowing and not knowing. I know that sounds like a meditation teacher speaking, but when you’re in the laboratory, or you’re theorizing about physics, you need to know what you know, but if you can’t get out from under that, you won’t be able to make that insightful, first-time connection that nobody else has seen before.
- Can we be in touch with our own life unfolding? Can we rise to the occasion of our own humanity? Can we take on the challenges we meet, even seeking them out to test ourselves, to grow, to act in a principled way, to be true to ourselves, to find our own way, and ultimately not only have it but, more importantly, live it?
- You are already everything you may hope to attain, so no effort of the will is necessary – even for the mind to come back to the breath – and no attainment is possible. You are already it. It is already here. Here is already everywhere, and now is already always.
- I don’t want people following Jon Kabat-Zinn. I want them following themselves.
- Make a list of what is really important to you. Embody it.
- Societal transformation isn’t going to happen in one month, one year, or even one lifetime. But we see it happen person by person in front of us, and we don’t have to worry about the future if we’re taking care of the present. In some sense, that’s the best insurance policy we can have.
- The senses are fundamentally the only way we can know the world. Jon Kabat-Zinn
- When you’re walking, just walk. It turns out to be the hardest thing.
- There is a price we pay for being attached to a narrow view of being right.
- Too often, our lives cease working because we cease working at life, because we are unwilling to take resonsibility for things as they are, and to work with our difficulties.
- We all come into and go out of this world as passing gatherings of structured energy.
- We’re still really saddled with a stone age mind in a digital age world.
- What is my job on the planet? is one question we might do well ask ourselves over and over again. Otherwise, we may wind up doing somebody else’s job and not even know it.
- When asked about his apparent lack of anger toward the Chinese by an incredulous reporter at the time he won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Dalai Lama replied something to the effect that: They have taken everything from us; should I let them take my mind as well?
- When experience is viewed in a certain way, it presents nothing but doorways into the soul.
- When you’re walking, just walk. When you’re eating, just eat. Not in front of the TV, not with the newspaper. It turns out, that’s huge.
- You don’t need the iPhone: you have the most exquisite apparatus in the known universe sitting right in your head – the most complex organization of matter in the entire universe. And here are we, feeling a little depressed, feeling like we’re not getting where we need to be, when really you might be exactly where you need to be.