Mindfulness is the practice of purposely bringing one’s attention to the present-moment experience without evaluation. Mindfulness derives from sati, a significant element of Hindu and Buddhist traditions, and is based on Zen, Vipassanā, and Tibetan meditation techniques. (1)
When dealing with stressful situations, the goal is to observe the present moment without getting caught in the negative emotions. This is also called observer consciousness, or witness consciousness.
If we are prone to negative or hostile reactions, we can put an end to that by choosing a different path. This starts with observations. What triggers or emotional states have led to outbursts in the past? (2) Once we bring this into our awareness, we will have an internal warning of when it’s time to apply reason, calm, and neutrality.
Our ability to remain in the present moment is strengthened when we apply meditative techniques.
For example, when feeling agitated or as if we must react to something we can keep the attention in the area below the nostrils and above the upper lip. Remain aware of each breath as it enters or leaves. If the mind is very dull or very agitated, breathe deliberately and slightly harder for some time. Otherwise, the breathing should be natural. (3)
Stoicism and Mindfulness
Stoicism is a philosophy of personal virtue ethics informed by its system of logic and its views on the natural world, asserting that the practice of virtue is both necessary and sufficient to achieve eudaimonia (happiness, lit. ’good spiritedness’). (4)
“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” – Marcus Aurelius
“Begin the morning by saying to yourself, ‘I shall meet with the busybody, the ungrateful, arrogant, deceitful, envious, unsocial.’ All these things happen to them by reason of their ignorance of what is good and evil. But I, who have seen the nature of the good that it is beautiful, and of the bad that it is ugly, and the nature of him who does wrong, that it is akin to me, not only of the same blood or seed, but that it I participates in the same intelligence and the same portion of the divinity, I can neither be injured by any of them, for no one can fix on me what is ugly. Nor can I be angry with my kinsman, nor hate him. For we are made for cooperation, like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like the rows of the upper and lower teeth. To act against one another then is contrary to nature and it is acting against one another to be vexed and turned away.” – Marcus Aurelius
Restoring Personal Power
If we are not mastering ourselves then we will get mastered by forces beyond ourselves. We lose power when we allow ourselves to be puppets of forces who want us to be upset, distraught, or acting out drama-filled narratives.
By bringing our attention within, we can remember that we have a choice as to what we allow ourselves to express and what we will not express in this world. We don’t have to participate in negative timelines, we can choose to see them for what they are, and then transcend them.
February 12, 2023