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Fight Back Without Empowering What You’re Fighting Against

Mindfulness is considered to be an internal resource for healing our body and mind which helps us get curious about our passions and drives. But what is the role of mindfulness when we’re clear on our core values, and they appear to be under attack? Here are some clues in this regards from Judson Brewer, Director of Research at the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School:

“We take mindfulness, awareness, where there’s no push or pull. That no push or pull—that’s the definition of equanimity. Where we’re not being pushed, we’re not being pulled. There’s an “even keel”-ness. This is like in the Tao Te Ching quote where he talks about the mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas, supple like a tree in the wind, steady like a mountain. Anything is possible from him because he has let go. That’s equanimity—the tree that bends in the wind, it’s not rigid. And then it pops back up, unharmed”.

“If we get too attached to our views, then we’re going to lose sight of how to live them out. Because when we resist—when we’re not the supple tree that bends in the wind—we’re not able to deal with what’s actually happening right now. We say, “I don’t want this to be this way.” It’s like one of those blow-up clown punching bags that’s supposed to pop back up after you punch it. Each time we reject what’s happening, we add sand to the doll, making it heavier. Then, we’re no longer able to pop back up. Then what happens? I knocked myself out because it’s so heavy. I’ve exhausted myself.”

“Curiosity can help support equanimity. When we’re resisting something, we’re contracting. And that contraction creates a sense of self. “This is my view,” creates a sense of self. Curiosity has the opposite quality—an opening up, expansiveness. When we’re approaching someone who holds an entrenched view, we put up a curiosity which naturally leads us away from initiating one of those “I hate you, you’re stupid” wars (those “you’re stupid” “no, you’re stupid” debates people can get into when tempers flare). So we dive in and we’re suddenly curious: What is it about you’re conditioning? We don’t want to say it that way, but really that’s what it is. What is it about your conditioning that leads you to have that view? Isn’t that interesting? Why are you so…and then suddenly we totally want to understand where they’re coming from. And usually this is some sense of inadequacy, trauma, feeling insufficient”.

“(…) we can let go of our own toxic viewpoints and then suddenly try to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes. And if we can do that then we can start speaking their language and if we can start speaking their language then they’re going to feel heard. And suddenly we’re having a conversation as compared to a yelling match. How can we start to approach any major issue without understanding where the other is coming from? If they need something and we don’t know what that need is we’re not going to get anywhere”.

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