|Photo courtesy of Wikimedia|
One of the most influential thoughts I have come across to describe Mindfulness came from the book titled Anger by Thich Nhat Hanh. Though he is referring to anger when he writes, I have experienced how I can apply it to any unwanted feeling. If you practice being mindful of your thoughts and feelings, you will most definitely encounter thoughts and feelings that you would rather not. Instead of ignoring them or pushing them away, which would be considered "non-mindful", Hahn suggests the following:
First he writes, "'My dear anger, I know you are there, I am taking good care of you.'"
Then, he goes on to compare caring for your anger like a good mother cares for her fussy baby.
"The mother holds her baby with mindfulness, fully concentrated on him. The baby feels some relief because he is being held tenderly by his mother... She holds the baby not only for the sake of holding the baby, but also to find out what is wrong with him."
"We hold our baby of anger in mindfulness so that we get relief. We continue the practice of mindful breathing and mindful walking, as a lullaby to our anger."When I was trying to come up with some easy steps to take to begin practicing Mindfulness, I thought about how holding a baby bird might also describe the gentleness Hahn describes above.
As Jon Kabat-Zinn--well know author and speaker on Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction--says "Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally." (cite)
Applying the idea of holding thoughts and feeling as you would a baby bird, seems to describe that action for me. How can you be judgmental of a baby bird? When we hold a baby bird we also need to be gentle and attentive. We don't want to hold so tightly we squish the little bird, yet we do not want to hold so loosely that it falls. (I should note that the baby bird has not learned to fly yet.)