If you have come across mindfulness you can relate to it as ‘being more aware of the present moment’ and probably like the idea that doing that will in some way bring about greater peace. With time and practice that is indeed one of the likely side effects of an ongoing practice.
Did you ever consider though the responsibility that also arises from practicing mindfulness?
An introduction to mindfulness probably starts with a simple and incredibly beneficial breath awareness practice. Through practicing this you are likely to have experienced times when you seemed to find it quite easy to stay aware of the present moment and noticed a feeling of peace, calm, and ease. You might have had a sense of being in a timeless space where time literally didn’t seem to exist in that you felt neither hurried nor slow in time. It is also likely that at other times you noticed that your mind was incredibly busy and the practice felt frustrating and not at ease. During these sort of practices you probably felt like the practice couldn’t end quick enough and your mind wanted to hurry through the discomfort of what seemed an eternal never ending time that couldn’t end quick enough. In these two contrasting practices (and a never ending spectrum of variations of other experiences) you might start to develop the self awareness of your state of being in that moment.
Developing this awareness of our present moment state of being highlights that behind the distraction of what we are currently doing there is the state of being from which we are doing it with.
Deepening this awareness further still can bring into our awareness our otherwise hidden fearful egoic self with all of it’s agendas and intentions. We might start to notice that underneath the surface distractions of what is going on that our state of being is one of a subtle underlying fear. This subtle underlying fear is the human ego at work. The human ego lives in a space of separation and lack where it fears that it isn’t enough, doesn’t have enough, and needs to make sure it fills that void. Subtly this drives all of it’s human interactions with life. Every word, thought, email and action has an undertone of putting itself first and attempts to manipulate everyone/thing it comes into contact with to make sure it’s needs are met and often without any awareness of the collateral damage that may be resulting from needing to fill those needs. This egoic state is one of contraction and often offers such limited possibility whilst it subtly stays in defense mode. Of course we are rarely consciously aware of the ego in action as it all seemingly happens without our knowingness, until it starts to get noticed by practicing mindfulness.
At other times the state of being may reflect an expanded state of ease, grace and generosity. This state of grace trusts in the universe and has the greater good of all at it’s heart. There are no hidden egoic agendas, there is no lack or fear. There is a respect of self and others in equal measure and an open honesty as there is nothing to hide. From this state there is unlimited potential. There is peace, trust and love.
When we start to become aware of our underlying state of being we can’t help but reflect on whether we wish to flavour anything that we might be doing with that state. This is where we start to realise the responsibility of what we are bringing to everything that we do. It offers the realisation that tending to our underlying state of being is perhaps more important than trying to control what we are doing. More a case of trying to choose how we are ‘being’ than what we are ‘doing.’ There is a lovely saying in yoga that says ‘it doesn’t matter how far you get in a pose, what matters is who you are when you are there’ and I would add to that who you are whilst getting there too.
When we start to become more self aware in the moment, we have a new found responsibility, or response-ability. We can work on our state of being so that it comes from an expanded state of grace and generosity. Of course we will have moments and phases where we are aware that we feel contracted and fearful and when we notice that we have the choice to do our best to ease out of that state, or not. We can choose to do what we need to to come from that place of love rather than one of egoic fear. We can start to become aware of any of our hidden egoic agendas as they surface and we can choose to let those go in order to see and be the bigger picture, or not.
One thing that many a human ego won’t like though is that if you are becoming more self aware you are the one that carries the choice that you ultimately decide to make. You are the one that chooses love or fear. That is your response – ability. It is often at this point of awareness and responsibility that the ego wants you to drop mindfulness and will convince you that you are too busy for it all. It will try to push any feelings of discomfort aside and find another suitable distraction for you so that it can stay safe in the knowledge that ‘it’ has survived and can continue putting itself first now that it can safely hide back into all of it’s manipulative fear driven agendas while you convince yourself you are not aware of it. The games we play!
Or, you can make a commitment to choosing to become more aware and of owning your response to life. You can choose to become aware of all of the egoic blocks and barriers that we all hold until we release them. You can choose expansion or contraction, ease or dis-ease, love or fear.
What will you choose?