I’ve become a little wary of blogging about mindfulness recently; I fear I’m at risk of becoming something of a cliche, if I write another piece about how great mindfulness is, and how everyone should practice it.
Because it’s everywhere right now, isn’t it? And I do worry that it could be turning into yet another thing that people feel they have to achieve.
But life for most of us is hard enough without that burden.
I’m beginning to prefer to use the word ‘awareness’ – it doesn’t seem to carry the weight of expectation, there’s more room for not getting anything right.
We can grow awareness very very slowly, and we can become more aware without even having to change anything. The habits we’d like to change are often so deeply entrenched because the idea of doing anything different is, quite frankly, terrifying.
If what we’re shooting for is simply awareness, we really don’t have to change the habit until we’re ready: just bringing compassionate awareness to those times we catch ourselves in the act is enough. It’s more than enough. It kickstarts the process of real change.
Because with awareness, we start to truly understand our habits. We begin to see what it is that we’re avoiding (or seeking) through particular behaviour. This can show up in the things we actually do, but also in our mental and emotional patterns and habits. I speak here from personal experience – many of my own habits are attempts to escape uncomfortable feelings like uncertainty, confusion, insecurity or fear (to name just a few).
Once we have this kind of insight into our own patterns, a positive change can begin to unfold naturally. And that will likely not be a neat and tidy movement towards ‘success’. A gradual growth as a human being may occur that is meandering, back-sliding, acceptance-requiring – and quite astonishing.
What’s more, there is no particular end-point that we need to reach. In my own practice of ten years, the more awareness I’ve developed, the further away I’ve moved from needing to evaluate my own success, at anything – including meditation.
I hope that as mindfulness becomes more embedded into our culture, we can embrace it as a simple invitation towards greater awareness, as we tread this tricky and amazing path of being human.
If you liked this piece, you can find out how to explore my approach further here