“The spirit of inquiry is fundamental to living mindfully”
Throughout class, we have discussed Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book Wherever You Go There You Are to explore his views on mindfulness. On the first page of his book he opens by saying, “Mindfulness has everything to do with waking up and living in harmony with oneself and with the world. It has to do with examining who we are, with questioning our view of the world and our place in it, and with cultivating some appreciation for the fullness of each moment we are alive. Most of all, it has to do with being in touch.”
As we examined mindfulness in class, the various perspectives and standpoints became very apparent. After reading Zinn, each of us developed our own personal view of mindfulness and the specific characteristics that we found important when being mindful. We found many different perspectives on the definition of mindfulness. In fact, some may stress certain characteristics that make up mindfulness while others fail to recognize them. Zinn gives many explanations of what it means to be mindful. He says mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally. He goes further to say it provides a simple but powerful route to getting ourselves unstuck, back in touch with our wisdom and vitality. Mindfulness can be thought as simply the art of conscious living. The key is appreciation for the present moment and the cultivation of an intimate relationship with it through a continual attending to it with care and discernment. In the article, Mindful Ethics: Mindfulness and Professional Responsibility, they explain that mindfulness is becoming one of the more widely research and practiced contemplative traditions and is being taught in organizations to enhance leadership skills, job effectiveness, and well-being. They define mindful ethics as the “integration of mindfulness and professional responsibility.” Today, we’ve become so accustomed to the hustle and bustle of our daily routines and much of the time we are going through the motions. Personally, I believe having a schedule is vital to keeping your life in order but to a certain extent. I have come to realize that going through the same motions each day, I easily find myself in a rut and search for some type of variety in my life. Whether it be catching up with a friend I haven’t seen in a while, changing up my workout, taking a different route home, or even doing my makeup differently, I believe that it can make a difference in my mood. I believe mindfulness is a way to get out of the repetitive routine so that you can see things in a new light. Mindfulness plays into how you portray yourself to those around you as well as how you perceive the world and people within it.
Being in college, I have become so high strung and obsessed with completing my tasks at hand while juggling my personal life and relationships. I’ve lacked mindfulness because day in and day out I am worried that I won’t complete my homework assignments or have time to workout and go to class on top of a billion other things. Thus, I have failed to notice small details and the importance of keeping up with the relationships you have. Last semester, I became very overwhelmed in that I had a difficult time balancing my personal relationships while managing my busy schedule. I’ve learned that taking the time to go get a cup of coffee with your friend that you haven’t seen in a while won’t kill you. In fact, it will build a stronger relationship, make the person feel special as well as provide a little variety to your life to lift your spirits. I am slowly learning that I need to take a deep breath and find time later because some things aren’t worth losing. A quote by Tao Te Ching resonated with me in that I believe it summed up my view of mindfulness and the problems that I have had with fully practicing it. He said, “Amidst the worldly comings and goings, observe how endings become beginnings.” Even though one thing is ending, this allows for something new to flourish. Being present in the moment and mindful to these situations, one can become more aware and know that something good may come of it.