The Seven attitudes of Mindfulness and redundancy
For many of us the past six years have been pretty tough. We are increasingly asked to do more with less resources and often for less money. Increasingly, employment is less secure and the fear of redundancy hangs in the air. For others redundancy is a stark reality to be faced. Having twice faced redundancy in the last six years, I know what it feels like to be abandoned, put on the scrap heap, to question my identity and worth. I also know what it feels like to start again, to rebuild and to grow.
When Jon Kabat-Zinn developed the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Programme at the University of Massachusetts medical school he initially identified seven attitudinal factors that lay the foundations on which to build a strong meditation practice. If we can cultivate these attitudes in meditation then we can also cultivate them in everyday life to help us respond to everyday challenges.
Job security is not what it used to be, increasingly more people face uncertainty at work and the threat of redundancy is a reality for many. Having personally experienced this twice in the last six years, I have found that the application of the seven attitudes has given me the strength to continue to move forward and embrace new challenges.
The seven attitudes are;
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few” – Shunryu Suzuki
The “beginner’s mind” is a mind that is willing to see everything as if for the first time. It allows us to look beyond expectations based on past experiences, and to be receptive to new possibilities. Being made redundant can feel devastating, the end of what we know. However it is also a new beginning full of possibilities and new opportunities.
“The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.”
― Jiddu Krishnamurti
Non-judging. We are constantly generating judgments about our experience. Everything we see is labeled and categorized. Become aware of this constant stream of judging and step back from it, then you can see through your prejudices and fears to find alternative solutions. When you find your mind judging, you don’t have to stop it. All that is required is to be aware of it happening. Judging the judging only makes matters even more complicated. When we become more aware of our judgements we become more open to possibilities rather than getting wrapped up in ‘i can’t, I won’t, I don’t like’ etc. We begin to see and consider more options for the future.
When I argue with reality, I lose—but only 100% of the time.
See things as they actually are in the present. Acceptance does not mean that you are satisfied with things as they are or that you are resigned to tolerating things as they “have to be.” It does not mean that you should abandon your principles and values, or abandon your desire to change and grow. Acceptance actually forms the springboard for change, because you are much more likely to know what to do and to have the inner conviction to act when you have a clear picture of what is actually happening.
“Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.”
– Alan Watts
Mindfulness meditation has no goal other than for you to pay attention to the way you are in the moment. Do not grasp for a particular state of mind. Just watch, and allow yourself to experience anything and everything from moment to moment.Fear and anxiety about the future can easily fog the mind, opportunities will present themselves there is no need to grasp for the first one that appears. Take your time and explore your options with clarity.
When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.
Let your experience be what it is and practice observing it from moment to moment. When we start paying attention to our inner experience, we rapidly discover that there are certain thoughts and feelings and situations that the mind seems to want to hold on to. Letting go is a way of letting things be, without grasping and pushing away. We often define ourselves by what we do, but we are much more. Letting go of limiting job defined identities frees us from the confines of false limitation.
Have patience. All things are difficult before they become easy.” ~ Saadi
Remind yourself that there is no need to be impatient with yourself because you find the mind judging all the time or because you are tense or agitated or frightened, or because you have been practicing mindfulness for some time and nothing positive seems to have happened. To be patient is simply to be completely open to each moment, accepting it in its fullness, knowing that things can only unfold in their own time. The same is true of your next employment opportunity, the more we practice the preceding five attitudes the more possibilities and opportunities will arise.
The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.
― Ernest Hemingway
Honour your own feelings and intuition without discounting them or writing them off because some authority or some group of people think or say differently. Practice taking responsibility for being yourself and learn to listen to, and to trust your own sense of self. When the right opportunity presents itself, you will know, trust this inner knowledge and take the next step on your journey.
(Adapted from Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn)