One of the most dicey bits to get your arms around, mindfulness-wise, is the act of accepting what you discover. For today, let’s define mindfulness as knowing what’s happening as it’s happening, within you and around you, without making a problem of any of it. If you take that definition in for consideration, you may notice some resistance to it. It’s that last phrase that sticks in the craw. I can hear it plenty loud right between my own ears, as I sit here typing. “Not making a problem of any of it?! Lady, you must be blind, because there are all kinds of problems we’re working with here.”
Without further ado, I hereby stipulate to all the world’s problems.
Now, if we can return to today’s exercise, please. Our endeavor becomes more interesting, if perhaps more subtle. Everything we can identify, we are knowing at some level. Everything we see, hear, taste, touch, smell, we can know. Every reaction we have, every thought, emotion, sensation, we can know that we’re having them. We can identify that they are happening. With this recognition, with identification completed, we can look further with curiosity. When we identify what is here and if we immediately add “problem” to what is known, what is this about?
The best way to answer this question is to pause and find out for yourself. If you’re like most of us, it shouldn’t take long… I’ll wait right here for you.
If you did in fact step away, or even just look away, you probably found some unwelcome element, in your locale or in your own body or brain. What I’m predicting you noticed with this “problem” bit is some form of resistance. This might include cognitive resistance, like the thought “I don’t like that.” It might include physical resistance, such as physical guarding or turning away, or a facial expression that communicates rejection. You can perceive that you separate, you draw back or pull away. As soon as you label something as “problem,” you separate from it. It’s out, whereas you are in. Problem is other, it’s a reject, it’s not okay, it’s wrong. It’s as though long ago we were given a big old-fashioned rubber stamp labeled REJECT and we’re running around whumping it on various things, often with alarming frequency, and also often with little consistency. We stamp people, ideas, nations, fads, fashions, statements, weather systems, political parties, behaviors, land features, and the pile of unanswered mail on your desk with the REJECT label.
What happens to your day if you replace the REJECT stamp with one that marks everything INCLUDE? Conditions can remain the same. You continue noticing the same people, facts, thoughts, weather patterns and piles of mail. These elements are. They simply are as they are, and you include them. Now what happens to your relationship to all that you notice? How do you meet that pile of mail? How do you respond to the world, by including the world arising around you and the world arising within you? How do you meet the very elements that previously held the label REJECT?
Spoiler alert; here’s what happens in my experience, at least: Things expand. Your mind widens. Options that were hidden become available. You bring more information into conscious awareness. Your body relaxes. You move differently, and what you meet responds differently right back at you. The world becomes more expansive, that same world in front of your eyes right now.
Try it out, over and over and over. Identify, include and expand. Remember to include your own resistance, as it arises, without making it a problem. Identify, include, expand. Rinse and repeat. And see what happens.