In an age of technology and social media, we are almost constantly exposed to the beliefs and opinions of a vast number of other minds. People widely share and distribute these beliefs and opinions – usually unsolicited, and often with methods of communication which could be termed violent.
The world seems to be intellectually ‘noisier’ than it’s ever been in our quest for progress. The practices and principles of yoga invite a return to a peace of mind we have temporarily lost in transition.
We human beings are generally more aware of our conscious beliefs and opinions than we are of the nature of our thought stream as it vacillates between higher and lower frequencies, filled with almost constant internal dialogue. The less conscious, rapid-fire tugs and pulls of emotions that lie beneath those thoughts and beliefs is, from a Jungian perspective, what essentially drives our behavior.
Mindfulness encourages us to pay more attention to our thoughts so that we begin to see that it is what we practice that grows stronger, not what we say we practice. A beautifully insightful comment on a previous post, ties in beautifully with the natural next step to be addressed in adopting mindfulness as a tool, not just for enhancing our yoga or meditation practice, but as a practical life skill: The Crisis of Perfection.
The hours of repetition, away from the game or performance, is what becomes natural and strong in an athlete or performer and this can be true of both the positive and negative, both the empowering and disempowering.
If we see the burgeoning practice of mindfulness in stages, the first stage can be described, broadly speaking, as an increasing awareness of our thought stream: ‘what I think’.
The second stage of mindfulness, which almost inevitably follows the first, is characterized by ‘what I think about what I think’.
In our bid to become more aware of our thoughts and emotions, we may become frustrated that we’re frustrated, angry that we’re angry and sad that we’re sad. This kind of awareness can become a secondary layer of judgment and reactivity towards ourselves and others in our constant need to progress while also expecting the same of others.
Compassion is a vital survival tool if a mindfulness practice is to survive beyond this stage.
The crisis lies in believing the negative thought. Self-compassion is allowing the thought to be present, noticing the urge to be pulled in its direction, towards what Dr David Hawkins refers to as the ‘juice’.
Believing our negative thoughts causes discomfort in the body, which to so many, is an indicator of the truth of those thoughts. Yet, once we understand that it is this very discomfort that is our saving grace, a call to see the inaccuracy of our perceptions, we have truly begun the path of alchemy towards internal peace.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”Viktor E. Frankl
Observing the urge to distract from or act on the discomfort that comes from our inner judgment begins to open that ‘space between stimulus and response’, heralding the beginning of a new age within: The Age of Compassion.
Individually, the willingness to nurture the power that comes from slowly releasing our conditions, all those obstacles the world around us must overcome in order to be loved by us can lead – in a very real sense – to our personal role in creating “the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible”.