Befriending Your Experience
Good morning. The great mindfulness teacher, Jon Kabat Zinn described mindfulness as, “a way of befriending ourselves and our experience.” I think this is a nice way to think about the practices we have been doing. Sometimes we can find a way to try to control ourselves, even when we choose the activity. We need things to be how we imagined them or how we think they should be. That’s attachment and it causes us a world of trouble. The image that comes to mind is of one of my family road trips years ago where everyone was cranky and my response was, “we are going on a family vacation and we are going to have fun and like it, damn it…”
Not mindful. Definitely not befriending the experience.
So what’s the opposite? It is going with the flow. If you dislike something, you can commiserate with yourself. Wish it wasn’t happening. But, what flat out doesn’t work is refusing to accept a situation and more importantly how we feel about it. Then we get mired in anger, resentment, blame, and hopelessness. So, today’s practice will be to befriend yourself and your personal experiences.
Think about something you are a bit frustrated about. Imagine what a good friend would say. They would intuit what you are feeling and tell you those feelings made sense. They might say, “how frustrating!” Can you do that for yourself? Or, do you just stew? Or, blame someone else? Sometimes we think we are accepting something, but we are really going through the motions but remaining sullen and angry. That’s not acceptance and it’s not being mindful.
So right now, sit tall, breathe in deeply, and notice something that frustrates you or that you wish were not true. Really accepting something does not mean you are ok with it or that you wouldn’t prefer it another way. It just means that you note your unpleasant feelings and accept them. Then you might find room for other experiences you are missing if you remain sullen and fixated on the thing that frustrated you. If you can, just decide to sit and befriend yourself and your feelings for 3-5 minutes. Breathing is essential because you need your body (where your emotions are expressed) to be connected to your thoughts and breath is an easy way to do that.
After you are finished, make it your intention to approach every annoying and frustrating thing today gently with compassion like a friend of yours might do. Try to avoid blaming yourself and others and instead sit with disappointment, frustration, anger for just a moment and breathe, You might find that you move on more quickly than usual. Try it…
Wishing each of you a day with just enough frustration necessary to stretch and grow!