The idea of mindfulness is quite mainstream today. Being ubiquitous doesn’t diminish the impact of building a personal practice of awareness (of our thoughts, emotions and surroundings). But what seems to be missing is the gentleness with which the awareness is held. The way we treat ourselves is fundamental to being mindful.
Author of Mindfulness for Dummies, Shamash Alidini explains in a Zone Show podcast with Tom Evans that true mindfulness + kindness = kindfulness. As soon as I heard that beautiful word, “kindfulness” I knew something was about to be different in my practice. Being mindful can be a heady experience - all that time in my thoughts, noticing new thoughts, letting them go, and so on. But I’m realizing kindfulness starts much deeper, at the heart level. When my intent is to be kind and gentle with myself, I am more mindful.
Recently I was frustrated by not being able to accept an offer for a new piece of work. I was mindful of the frustration, the building disappointment and the inner wrestling with trying to figure out if I could rearrange something else very important on my calendar to accept the offer. In this case, being mindful was keeping me spinning around in my head. Then I remembered this idea of kindfulness – and suddenly I felt a wave of gratitude in my torso! “Where did that come from?” I wondered. Feeling into the sense of gratitude, I found present an appreciation of my commitment to make my “yesses” be all-in, not the kind that, once uttered, then scrambles to figure out how on earth it’s going to work out. That commitment was made with the intention of being kind to myself, my workload and therefore the people I work with. Hard lesson, wonderful outcomes.
And so, I’m learning that being kind – practicing kindfulness – is a prerequisite to being more mindful. In fact, I think being mindful is a natural outcome of being kind to myself. I’m on the front end of this new idea, so I expect there will be a lot more learning to come. Join me in being more kindful this week?