“A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose is a rose,” wrote Gertrude Stein.
In describing a rose as a rose she was suggesting what a rose is not! It is not a past relationship, it is not a future plan, it does not matter that it might be red or yellow or white, that it might be planted in a hedgerow or a meadow; it is what it is: just a rose!
To truly appreciate the beauty of the flower, to appreciate the contrast of hard thorns and soft, fragrant petals you must first be mindful of what it is – a rose.
When we look at every moment in this way, when we disconnect the link we tend to have with suffering and appreciate situations as they are, we have the foundation for reducing stress and releasing discomfort and pain. This is the basis of yoga therapy.
And as an example, take a look at the attached video, which is from an Indian TV show. What’s remarkable is that the dancer, after an accident resulting in a fracture followed by a doctor making a mistake and unnecessarily amputating her leg, manages to perform an amazing routine in front of packed venue. She’s dazzling!
I suspect it’s because she was mindful, but what do I mean? Well, mindfulness is:
Sustaining attention to one task at a time.
Being openhearted and open minded.
It is awareness moment-by-moment. I am typing these words, my fingers are fluttering across the keyboard and I am in complete awareness.
Being non-judgmental and not clinging unnecessarily to the task at hand.
Not functioning on auto-pilot, not daydreaming, but paying attention to what is needed at this time.
Mindfulness cannot be fully explained in words, as it needs to be experienced to be known.
So in short Mindfulness is defined as “open hearted and open minded, moment by moment non-judgmental awareness.” A situation is just that, it’s up to you decide how you make it positive. And this is the basis for how you heal yourself and treat conditions or manage stress and pain.
The dancer must have been open hearted and open minded to be able to realize her dream, she must have been aware of herself, she must have moved beyond judging her disability as a limitation, and had she functioned on auto-pilot, fantasizing on what might have been, she’d not have been able to dazzle her audience.
And now we know what mindfulness is, how do we practice being mindful? Even in our busy lives we can experience mindfulness by disengaging ourselves from our activity by taking long conscious breaths and asking these questions:
What am I sensing in my body right now?
What am I feeling?
What am I thinking?
What is alive in my awareness?
What am I listening to? What can I hear that is in close vicinity? And in the far?
What is the taste in my mouth?
Can I feel the weight of the clothes on my skin? And weight of the feet on the floor?
Asking these questions, becoming more aware, allows you to appreciate things for what they are without preconceived notions and without placing limitations on yourself, and that allows you to concentrate on the positive side of life, like the dancer. And positive reinforcement helps you to overcome obstacles, leading to a better, less stressful and healthier life.
So be aware of yourself, you are what you are without limitation; and appreciate your surroundings and circumstance without judgment, appreciate them for what they actually are, remembering “a rose is a rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.”
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