The Attitudinal Foundations of Mindfulness Practice include:
Non-Judgment: Taking the stance of an impartial witness to your own experience; noticing the stream of a judging mind – not trying to stop it but just being aware of it.
Patience: Letting things unfold in their own time. A child may try to help a butterfly emerge by breaking open a chrysalis; but chances are the butterfly won’t benefit from this help. Being completely open to each moment: accepting its fullness, knowing that like the butterfly, things will emerge in their own time.
Beginner’s Mind and Curiosity: Too often we let our thinking and our beliefs about what we ’know’ stop us from seeing things as they really are – cultivating a mind that is willing to see everything as if for the first time; being receptive to new possibilities. Each moment is unique and contains unique possibilities.
Trust: Developing a basic trust in yourself and your feelings means trusting in your own authority and intuition, even if you make some ‘mistakes’ along the way. On the other hand honouring your feelings means taking responsibility for yourself and your own wellbeing.
Non-Striving: meditation has no role other than for you to be yourself. The irony is you already are. Paying attention to how you are right now – observing this. The best way to achieve your own goals is to back off from striving and instead start to really focus on carefully seeing and accepting things as they are, moment by moment.
Acceptance: Seeing things as they actually are in the present. If you have a sore foot, accept you have a sore foot. We often waste a lot of time and energy denying what is factual. We are trying to force situations according to how we would like them to be. This creates more tension and prevents positive changes from occurring. Acceptance is not passive; it does not mean you have to be resigned to tolerate things. Acceptance is a willingness to see things as they are. You are much more likely to know what to do and have an inner conviction to act when you have a clear picture of what is actually happening.
Letting Go: This is a way of letting things be, of accepting things as they are. We let things go and we just watch: if we find it particularly difficult to let go of something because it has such a strong hold on our mind, we can direct our attention to what ‘holding’ feels like. Every time we notice the mind wandering and come back to the breath or body, we are practicing letting go.
Compassion and Kindness: Bringing some compassion towards ourselves can have a very healing effect and can allow us to be more compassionate towards others. If we don’t have feelings of kindness or compassion for ourselves right now, we can have the intention to feel compassion for ourselves in the future. Cultivating patience and non-striving requires kindness towards ourselves.
Generosity and Gratitude: Whether it’s the need to give to others, or perhaps give to ourselves more, how is it to cultivate this. As well as bringing gratitude to some of the things in our life we often take for granted.
Befriend Who You Are
Loving-kindness toward ourselves doesn’t mean getting rid of anything. It means that we can still be crazy, we can still be angry. We can still be timid or jealous or full of feelings of unworthiness. Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already. The ground of practice is you or me or whatever we are right now, just as we are. That’s what we come to know with tremendous curiosity and interest. Pema Chodron, ‘We Can Still Be Crazy’