The 7 Essential Principles to Mindful Living, According to the Founder of Western Mindfulness

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I’m sure we can all agree that life is better when you fully bask in each and every moment. The question is, how do you actually get there when your mind is constantly racing with worries and thoughts about the past and future?

Well, who better to ask than the person who actually created the mindfulness movement in the west?

Jon Kabat-Zinn is professor of Medicine Emeritus and creator of the first mindfulness center for Medicine, Health Care at the University of Massachesetts Medical School.

In his book, Full Catastrophe Living, he explained the seven essential attitudinal qualities for mindful living. We’ve gone over them below and explain why they can be so powerful to implement into your daily life.

1) Don’t judge

When you think about it, judgements colour everything we experience. A lot of our judgements are conditioned and they imprison us in our own narrow reality tunnel. Yet, if we adopt the attitude of non-judging, we step outside our own conditioned thought patterns and see life for what it really is.

This is a type of awareness that engages all perspectives and holds opinions lightly. It allows us to fully let go and engage in the present moment.

2) Acceptance

Acceptance isn’t passive but rather an active recognition that things are the way they are. Resistance to the way things are causes major mental and emotional suffering. When a negative emotion comes your way, you don’t need to resist it. Just acknowledge that it’s there and treat it without judgement. It’s only from acceptance that transformation can begin.

3) Patience

In modern life, so many of us are in a hurry. People are so often rushing to get to the next thing that they forget to enjoy the present moment.

Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh said “if you cannot enjoy doing the dishes you will not enjoy what you’re looking forward to doing later on.”

Looking to the future becomes a predominant habit in people’s lives which cripples their ability to enjoy the present moment. This also means keeping calm when something doesn’t go your way.

4) Non striving

The deepest and most profound teaching in meditation is to just Be. There’s no need to control, manipulate or change things. Just go with the flow of the present moment. As Lao Tzu says “I do nothing and everything gets done.” It’s a way of acting without trying to act. Action happens by itself, spontaneously – rather than being contrived.

5) Gratitude

Instead of complaining and wondering what life would be like if we had a certain thing, this involves appreciating what we have right now. Enjoy the present moment with a sense of humility and delight. Focus on the positives in life.

6) Letting go

Cultivating the attitude of letting go, or non-attachment, is fundamental to the practice of mindfulness. The tendency to want to hold on to what is pleasant in our experience and to reject what is unpleasant, is usually an automatic response sometime known as being on autopilot. To be asked to neither hold onto, nor to reject experience, is a challenging principle that can offer countless benefits in our lives.

7) Beginner’s Mind

Too often we let our thinking and our beliefs about what we ‘know’ prevent us from seeing things as they really are. Approaching each meditation as if it were your first time, building from “the ground up” from the body, contacting the breath, asking of yourself “what is really happening now” are hallmarks of beginner’s mind.

 

 

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