The Unfolding

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When we talk about mindfulness, many of us who are steeped in the practice and the literature also talk about an unfolding.

The unfolding feels like a slow opening that seems to have no end, like a flower that blooms to infinity. There’s always another petal to unfurl, another space to create, another way to expand.

The unfolding doesn’t seem to be especially organized, either. Awareness grows exponentially in one area of life for a period of time and then slows, only to move unpredictably to some other area of life.

Looking back on the unfolding can reveal patterns of growth and change–but, since we are always right in the middle of it, the unknown is ever present.

Where will my life open up next? How will my awareness change now? Where is this curiosity leading me?

Depending on how you feel about uncertainty, the constant unknown that comes with the unfolding can be stressful, frightening, exhilarating, or a combination of all three.

It can also be reassuring to know that life is changing. We aren’t static beings in a static world. This is especially true if current circumstances are challenging. But even if life is fabulous right now, it can be exciting to know that more good is to come.

When we resist the unfolding, we hold tightly onto something in the present instead of allowing the natural rhythms of growth and change to do their work. This doesn’t mean that change isn’t actually and truly scary; it may very well be the most difficult change of your life. Resisting it makes it even more so.

So, what to do?

Allow it. Make room for the resistance, the fear, the joy, the excitement,  and the unfolding.

And breathe.

Return to the breath, which will bring you into your body, which will bring you into this moment where everything is as it should be.

 

 

Why Mindfulness?

8f95b1fc691396cc5a304c781978dbe9Since I began deepening my mindfulness practice and teaching it to others, I’ve shared my enthusiasm for mindfulness in many casual conversations. Responses are often supportive, interested, curious, and sometimes suspicious or dismissive.

And I get it.

Mindfulness is trendy, and with trendy often comes superficial. There’s a commercial aspect as people move to capitalize on a concept or idea. So, you’re right to be cautious.

Before you dismiss mindfulness as just another trend or self-help gimmick, I invite you to see beyond the warm and fuzzy quote memes and products to the truth of the practice.

Mindfulness is not new. We in the west have not improved upon it, and it’s essence is so simple and contained that it can’t be adulterated. Perhaps someone could try to turn it into something more or different, but in it’s true form mindfulness is a state of mind that can’t be redefined.

This sets it apart from religion or spirituality, which are subject to multitudes of interpretations and inventions.

Mindfulness is simply directing our attention to the present moment and noticing what’s happening right here, right now without judgement.

How you practice mindfulness is only limited by your curiosity and creativity. The essential practice itself is unchanging.

In my wide and varied study of self-help books and content, I find again and again that at the foundation of any system or theory that is devised to help you change or improve is mindfulness, whether the author uses the term or not.

At the heart of any story about overcoming grief, addiction, depression, or other trial is a moment of mindfulness. A shock of clarity. The hard slap of truth. It’s the moment when all of the noise and nonsense falls away and the individual sees the raw, unfiltered truth and from that place they are also able to see a way out of their struggle.

Mindfulness is a way to heal and sooth the mind and body, and it’s an ability available to all of us.

Mindfulness can lead to freedom from our inner struggles. If we can crack the code on what’s going on inside us and heal it, then the inner hate, fear, criticism, ridicule, and heartache won’t become the outer cruelty, discrimination, inequity, and violence that we see too much of in this world.

So, why mindfulness? Because mindfulness is a way to come home to loving and accepting ourselves and it’s only from that place that we can contribute our best to greater good.