The following are essential principles and attitudes that are important to keep in mind in cultivating a mindful approach to life’s experiences and to working with chronic pain or distress in your life.

1) The fact that you are breathing and alive, is evidence enough that there is more right with you than wrong with you, no matter what is wrong in your life. It is the inner resource of Mindfulness Awareness itself that is larger than anything that is wrong with you. The Mindfulness Practices will work to mobilize and cultivate those inner resources of your body and mind to improve the quality of your day to day and moment to moment.

2) Being in the Present moment is central in the unfolding of awareness. The power of NOW is enormous. Being Present is also one of the inner resources we are all capable of doing, even though we all get caught up in the past and future planning. The practice is to cultivate and inhabit this present moment — the one moment when we are ever really alive.

3) One of the first ways we can react to negative experiences is by wanting things to be different than the way things are. Mindfulness is opening to these negative experiences in an accepting way. This is not some passive acceptance to how things are. It is an Active acceptance and it is a way of not getting caught up in these negative experiences, and instead it is developing a response to these experiences. We may certainly not like the present moment if we are in significant pain, whether emotionally or physically. So what we are practicing here is to, at one’s own pace and as best one can, to not immediately turn away from the discomfort or to distant ourselves from it. When we escape by distancing from this discomfort, we are therefore escaping from the present moment. This escaping or aversion to this discomfort also can be done by getting caught up in numbing ourselves with alcohol or drugs, or getting obsessed with the mental or physical discomfort by feeling a victim to this pain and then feeling helpless to it. All of this moves us away from “things as they are” and not being present.

4) The second way we can react to negative experiences is to have the attitude of “not wanting things the way they are” and so we can get caught up in anger towards these things, or we dissociate and disconnect from our feelings. We emotionally withdraw or become aloof, distant and cut off from ourselves and others. Grinning and baring the pain does not work either and usually only ends in despair. So again the attitude we are cultivating here is “acceptance to things as they are”.

5) The third way we can respond to these negative experiences is through Mindfulness, as stated in number two, being “present”, being open to and turning towards what we most fear. Feel the negative experience and gradually open to this experience over time and only to the degree that you choose possible. You can think of it as putting out the welcome mat to what is happening because whatever is occurring is already happening. Any attempt to turn away from that experience denies your situation, which does not help and only make matters worse. If we take the turning away route we will be turning away from opportunity to learn from what the pain has to teach us. By turning away you might not discover that you can become stronger and flexible to whatever it is that you are dealing with and also discover new and adaptive, healthier alternatives. This is called “resilience”, an interior strength we can cultivate through Mindfulness practice. It is a way to live and be well with what life offers us.

6) Learn to open up to your experience with kindness and compassion towards ourselves not judging that experience as BAD if we hate it or GOOD if we like it or BORING if we don’t have any feeling in any particular way about the experience.

To learn more about incorporating mindfulness principles into your life, contact me here.