There are plenty of definitions of mindfulness, each seeking to capture the essence of a practice. (Feel free to add a favourite of yours in a comment on this post.)
Here are two definitions I have often used: “being in control of our thoughts and feelings, rather than being run ragged by them” (Ruby Wax); “learning to pay attention and becoming fully awake” (Jon Kabat-Zinn). Two good definitions.
I loved coming across a new definition this week and it is this: “to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances”. It wasn’t in a book on mindfulness. It wasn’t intended to be a definition of mindfulness! And yet it serves well as a definition.
It is from a holocaust survivor who was also a neurologist and psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl. Here’s the context in which the definition appears:
“Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
It’s easy to go into ‘auto-response’, especially when a situation we are in is difficult (even if no where near as difficult as Viktor Frankl’s experience). It is great to be reminded that we can be intentional – make a choice – in our responses to all the happenings of life.
Let’s notice where we might make ‘auto responses’ this week. Let’s turn these into opportunities to make choices.
This isn’t easy to do but it will reward you. You will be the healthier for it.
For me, I also find getting on my knees and seeking divine assistance on what’s a good choice is part of the journey.
This is Mindful Monday on 31 August 2020.