Quotes! A good quote can capture a key idea in just a few words. It can stay with you and nurture you. Read on for a compilation of quotes by Jon Kabat-Zinn the founder of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction that I've put together to reflect on how mindfulness adds to daily life.
Mindfulness is a way of learning to pay attention. When we pay attention and we are not on automatic pilot we get to notice the texture of life- whatever that may be. JKZ says, “The little things? The little moments? They aren't little.” The more mindful we are the more we catch the small moments that make up life.
One of the best ways I’ve found to help develop a capacity to pay attention to present moment experience is to take up a regular mindfulness practice. It's a bit like practicing piano - it is only through practice that the sounds turn to music.
“Discipline provides a constancy which is independent of what kind of day you had yesterday and what kind of day you anticipate today.” Discipline in mindfulness meditation practice is so important - otherwise as soon as it gets difficult we distract, postpone or quit, and it will get difficult as life throws up it's inevitable challenges. A regular mindfulness practice will support you in learning to pay attention through all the moments of life, to show up and to be there whether pleasant or unpleasant.
“If you stop trying to make yourself more than you are, out of fear that you are less than you are, whoever you really are will be a lot lighter and happier and easier to live with, too.”
So often, at times of difficulty, we try and solve things. Solving things, particularly practical or mechanical things is functional and can be very useful. However, trying to solve or fix feelings such as grief, or trying to make ourselves into a vision of how we think we should be can be absolutely unproductive.
Often we think about how we are, where we want to be, notice the gap between them, and try to fix or shrink that reality gap. When we are unsuccessful we often feel like a failure, know that’s not where we want to be and try once again to fix it. It can be like using a spade to dig yourself out of a hole.
Sometimes when we find a way to accept who we are, rather than trying to fix ourselves, it can offer surprising relief and sometimes surprising changes may occur - or not!
JKZ says, “If we hope to go anywhere or develop ourselves in any way, we can only step from where we are standing. If we don't really know where we are standing... We may only go in circles...”
And how do we know where we are?
“Just watch this moment, without trying to change it at all. What is happening? What do you feel? What do you see? What do you hear?”
And what about when I am interacting with others?
“Look at other people and ask yourself if you are really seeing them or just your thoughts about them.... Without knowing it, we are colouring everything, putting our spin on it all.”
“We must be willing to encounter darkness and despair when they come up and face them, over and over again if need be, without running away or numbing ourselves in the thousands of ways we conjure up to avoid the unavoidable.”
“Note that this journey is uniquely yours, no one else's. So the path has to be your own. You cannot imitate somebody else's journey and still be true to yourself. Are you prepared to honour your uniqueness in this way?”
“So, in meditation practice, the best way to get somewhere is to let go of trying to get anywhere at all.”
And if all of this is confusing yet intriguing you may want to read a book by JKZ, listen to him on You Tube, or come along to a HeadRest Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course in Marrickville where we will walk through these ideas, learning through experience, developing a mindfulness meditation practice, a series of exercises, and reflection.
The next course begins on Oct 24 book through www,headrest.com.au