Reuben Lowe is originally from the UK and currently living in Australia. He has set up a project called ‘Mindful Creation’ to help empower people to improve upon their lives and to provide a doorway to other individuals and collectives with a similar approach, which is that of self-expansion and spiritual awareness. Mindful Creation joins a worldwide collaboration through social media known as the Heart-Centred Network, a community that focuses on reaching out and connecting from the heart and to the heart. It is comprised of millions of collectives and individuals, of all nationalities, races, and faiths, who are deeply committed to bettering the world we share. Reuben lives in Melbourne and works at a large private health clinic as a Contextual CBT / ACT therapist and mindfulness teacher in both the addictions service and mental health day programs.
What is it REALLY like to be YOU?
Knowing & Growing through the Art of Allowing
Guest post by Reuben Lowe
This article was written to provide a simple exploration into the psychology of both you and me. We will look briefly at how we often apply resistance to our everyday life encounters and how we can use mindfulness as an alternative to the average struggles. I would also like to finish by pointing you to some resources that may further assist you, should this be of interest, and to introduce you to a little project of mine called ‘Mindful Creation.’
“Nothing is worth more than this day.”
I’m sure that many of you are very familiar with mindfulness due to the interest you have expressed in joining this blog. I will very briefly touch on the definition here anyway before proceeding. The term ‘mindfulness’ can be confusing. Being mindful does not mean having a full mind and it is not a thinking process. Mindfulness is the process of stepping out of our minds and into a direct sensing experience with life. Mindfulness is purely something we experience, not understand. It is the open receptive awareness of our body-mind-world experiences in each moment of what is now. Mindfulness helps develop receptiveness to the moment, whatever it is, without either over-attaching to or rejecting the given experience. This paves the way for an attitude of self-kindness and acceptance as we observe life unfolding as it is at a given moment.
“Our one true home is in the present moment.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
This ‘one true home’ that is referred to in the quote above is in every given moment of what is now. As our minds tend to dominate our awareness, we focus instead on thoughts concerning what happened in the past or what may happen in the future. While being a slave to our own minds, we are continuously trapped in repetitive and unhelpful thinking patterns.
“Get out of your mind and into your life.”
The average human being has approximately 65,000 thoughts in one day, which is about one every 1.2 seconds, and 80% of these can be categorised as negative or unhelpful. These figures may seem far-fetched, but contemplate just how often we are hooked into continuous thinking patterns, running through the same thoughts over and over again instead of appreciating the richness of the precious moment in the here and now.
“We can spend our whole lives escaping from the monsters in our minds.”
It is, of course, often strikingly apparent that the experience of living in the Western world is one of an inner unrest for major parts of our daily lives. Our minds have a tendency to mirror the hectic nature of everyday life in the external world, and as a consequence, it can often seem that there is little time for inner stillness. It is now generally agreed that those of us who live in countries with successful economies and have an abundance of resources do not have fewer social or interpersonal problems. In fact, in some cases, we have more.
“When you argue with reality, you lose… 100% of the time…
Arguing with reality is like teaching a cat to bark.”
When we look around at our daily life experiences, resistance is everywhere. Arguing with reality consists of complaints about how it should be different, how we should be elsewhere, how things are not okay until we obtain something else in the future, etc. Let’s face it, these are not the most desirable feelings to experience when we argue in such a way; the resistance fuels the unrest within, polluting our internal world, as well as the worlds of those around us. Whether it is sitting in a car at traffic lights and getting furious because they are red or if we are annoyed by the fact that it is raining outside- these are classic examples of how our minds make futile attempts to take control of reality by resisting the present moment.
“What could be more futile, more insane, than to create inner resistance to what already is? What could be more insane than to oppose life itself, which is now and always now?”
It is clear that there is an element of insanity within all of us from time to time. In the direct experience of inner-resistance, it is indeed futile and is not necessary when applied to daily life encounters. With an increased sense of awareness, the other choice we have is one of acceptance. I think it is definitely worth being clear here upon the process of acceptance. I am not advocating passively accepting all life situations and resigning to them as a consequence. Instead, using skills of mindfulness provides us with a heightened self-awareness of our own inner-experiences, and the ability to cultivate an acceptance of this. In this context, acceptance is the process of actively allowing our thoughts, feelings and sensations without resisting them or becoming entangled by them, and choosing to act in alignment with our values.
“All too often we operate from a place of hurt, focusing on perceived injustices and how long we’ve been wronged. The resulting fear-based reactions serve to deepen the distinctions and disconnections between us.”
Take a moment to reflect upon the quote above if you have not already. Do you sometimes sense the resistance and the disconnection between you and others in everyday life encounters? This isn’t just prevalent to those who are neutral to us. What about your resistance to those that you hold close to your heart at times? What about their struggles in everyday life encounters? Reflect for a moment upon how many of your dear friends experience psychological or social problems, relationship issues, difficulties at work, anxiety, depression, fear, low self-esteem, and other problems that cause suffering. How many marriages or friendships do you know that are perhaps empty of any meaningful connection? As this paragraph sinks in, maybe notice your response to reading this. It is likely to be one which evokes some emotion within you, and maybe one which you would rather not experience. In the rejection of this we find the source of the problem: the normal human reaction to suffering.
“Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind cannot bear very much reality.”
As the bird in the quote above insinuates, we’re not great at bearing such reality as we readily turn away from what it evokes within us. We’re conditioned to change our inner experiences or to try and avoid them completely. As you were growing up, which emotions were you taught that were undesirable? What emotions were expressed freely? How did your role models manage their emotions? Here lies the route of such conditioning. The process of this resistance is the source of the problem because it can influence our actions in ways that often cause us regret. This can be found in the subtlest of our actions, even in the ways we greet each other. All too often when asked “How are you going?” the answer we too often give is, “Good.” Indeed that may be the case. But is it always? What about you? In those moments… or others? How are you really? And who truly knows that other than you?
“Ships that pass in the night, and speak to each other in passing, only a signal shown, and a distant voice in the darkness; so on the ocean of life, we pass and speak one another, only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.”
As mentioned in the paragraph above, this inner struggle sets us up for behaviours in everyday life that can contradict the essence of who we really are. More apparent contradictions include overeating, under-eating, isolation, avoidance, ruminating, medications, alcohol, drugs, fault-finding, blaming, complaining, obsessions with material possessions, and the list goes on and on. All of these are often undertaken in the service of ‘fixing’ yourself, or should I say, ‘fixing’ the feelings within, though it is merely temporary. As a consequence, we can often find ourselves off course from the direction of who we really are at a deeper level. This feeds back into the unrest, intensifying undesirable feelings as the cycle continues.
“Perhaps the biggest tragedy of our lives is that freedom is possible, yet we can pass our years trapped in the same old patterns…”
Naturally, these patterns are how many mental health problems are caused and certainly perpetuate. Our experiences of undesirable thoughts and feelings are part of the normal human condition. It is our direct relationship with these, one of inner-resistance, that makes them ‘abnormal.’ It is my hope in writing this article that I will point you in the direction of a road called ‘Normal.’ There is liberation in knowing that such experiences are normal and in doing so we pave the way for an attitude of self-kindness and acceptance through the practise of mindfulness. In doing so, we can break out of these old familiar patterns turned habits into newer ones that represent what is actually important to us in those very moments.
“Feelings, whether of compassion or irritation, should be welcomed, recognized, and treated on an absolutely equal basis.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
And so it is: Wherever and whatever the moment, life will always provide a choice for you. There is the decision to expand your awareness, and as a consequence respond in a way that is a testament to who you really are, or to contract in reactivity through fear from yet another primitive and conditioned reflex. The latter requires your inattention, or mindlessness; the former, simple mindful awareness. Mindfulness gives you your power back, the power of a fully embodied you, a you that connects deeply with yourself and compassionately with others. In practising this art of simply being, with no other agenda whatsoever, you light the path of presence for others who are in the darkness of their minds. And, whether or not they are conscious to this, your gentle reminder of who they really are has placed no assertions upon them. In doing so, you effortlessly improve upon the world we share.
“Change is in the air, as old patterns fall away and new energies are emerging. Consciously release what needs to be released, and welcome with a full embrace the newness you’ve prayed for and so richly deserve.”
If you have a smartphone, you may wish to download Complete Mindfulness: The Art of Being application. Go directly to the AppStore or read the app details including many five-star reviews at mindfulinspiration.com
Join the Mindful Creation on Facebook mindfulness community for daily posts and many other links and resources at facebook.com/mindfulcreation
For a one-stop site with details of many empirically-supported studies demonstrating the benefit of mindfulness in a wide range of physical health concerns and mental health difficulties, visit mindfulnet.org