Mindfulness and the price of petrol

"Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are." - Chinese Proverb

Is it just me, or are you getting excited to see petrol prices dropping weekly too?

I don't think I've ever spent so much time taking note of the prices outside the numerous stations I pass daily.

And on the subject of noticing, I've become aware that mindfulness is an increasingly popular term these days. So what is it and is it relevant to our practices.

Well, I can't speak for the original ’mindfulness’ work which was done by Jon Kabatt Zinn, but I can speak for mindfulness in the healing and martial arts. It may be easier if you think of mindfulness as ’being present’ or consciousness.

Being in the present moment (from moment to moment to moment...) Is a difficult thing for us to achieve, as there always seems be be too much mental activity going on. Not only mental activity but emotional and physical activity too.

Hmmm. There's a couple of different ways to write about this so I'll try and cover briefly what I'd like to say in this email, and save the rest for this month’s newsletter.

First, a quote from my teacher:

“Recognise that stillness of being is not contrary to the activity of life” - Peter Ralston

In a nutshell what he's trying to say is that we think of being present (or calm) as something that we do. Kind of like we’re doing something that's not calming and we have to change or jump to do something that is calming. Not so.

It's better to relate that being present or calm is a shift into a quality of being that we can abide in, something that we can uncover or slip into.

And while we slip into that state of being present and abide there, life activity goes on but we watch it - calmly and quietly, responding appropriately. Like being an observer rather than a participant. You can still participate of course but you're coming from a position of calmness and quietude. Responsiveness rather than knee-jerk reaction.

As an observer, we’re less likely to get caught up in trying to figure out what's going on or getting anxious, fearful, upset and so on.

You're simply ’being’ in the present with whatever's occurring, from moment to moment, without judgement or opinion. The life activity you find yourself in is neither good or bad. It just ’is’.

And we still have to make decisions, it's true, but making those sometimes crucial decisions from a state of being present and calm will enable you to respond with much more intelligence and insight.

Whenever you find yourself feeling that your present situation is bad and wanting to change or “fix” it, take a step back and watch your mind. Become a quiet observer and notice that any emotions or judgements seem to become less powerful or even cease completely. You may even wonder why you reacted to the situation in the way that you did.

Deep stuff for a Tuesday eh?

Without going any deeper for the moment, I hope that makes some sense.

I'll cover more on how you can use ’mindfulness’ in your practice in the newsletter, but if you have any questions in the meantime just drop me a line.

It can be difficult to understand and even I struggle with many aspects, but the good news is that your practice can help a tremendous amount with becoming more conscious.

So for now I think I'll go and put some fuel in the car, it's only 106.9p in Tescos!