It is through the ability to sense into the relationship between our thoughts, emotions and physical sensations that we can see our habitual tendencies, usually developed through childhood in response to parenting and conditioning, which gives us the freedom to choose to do things differently from now on, resulting in a sense of empowerment, resilience and resourcefulness. Now that we are adults, new choices can be made to bring us joy and happiness beyond what we learnt in our earlier years and give us new perspectives on how to enrich our lives.
Through the non-judgemental identification of our patterns of resistance we can see that we can expend enormous amounts of energy trying to stop things from changing or wanting things to revert back to the way they used to be, rather than settling into the understanding that everything is impermanent and being OK with that.
It also sheds a very bright light on our predisposition to be reactive and do things very quickly in response to certain stimuli. Do you recall ever receiving a phone call, email or letter which precipitated an instant reply from you, only to wish later on that you had taken a little time to think about it some more, let it percolate and then respond more appropriately?
In essence what we are simply stopping, thereby cutting through autopilot, watch what arises in those moments of paying attention in the body, heart and mind and then bringing kindness to that.
This is where mindfulness and a compassionate approach intertwine. If we are critical or self-deprecatory of what arises in the moment then we are bringing aspects of our past, of our ingrained tendencies to the present moment which can be inappropriate at best and extremely damaging at worst.
If we are able to bring kindness to this, it builds resilience so that we can let go of the worry and let in joy.
We not only develop ingrained, habitual styles of thinking as we develop, but also habitual way of interacting with others. If these patterns are based on dysfunctional parent-child relationships, they may result in dysfunctional relationships with family, co-workers and others in your life today.
Mindfulness brings awareness to the dysfunctionality of relationships- their origins and how they manifest now. It helps to recognise and understand the past, acknowledging and validating experiences. Compassion practices help to soften around our behaviour and reactivity, allowing a sense of security, strength, patience, empathy and wisdom to manifest.
Meditation practice develops the qualities that help us recognise the needs and feelings, such that we take happiness from the joy and happiness of others as much as – or more than, even – from our own.