Doing The Counter-Intuitive Thing...A Reflection On True Mindfulness In Action.

I learnt something that was very interesting, but first a bit of background to set the stage. For the longest time, I've been subtly striving to fix any uncomfortable feelings I have. One of the most powerful ones is a deep undercurrent of desperate boredom. It always feels the same, a feeling of spaciousness, filled with absolutely nothing else. Like a cavernous empty room with no furniture, decorations, windows or doors.

Needless to say, I've attempted many times to do Focusing with it, and against the central Focusing attitude of NOT striving to change anything, subtly trying to force this feeling to shift.

I realised that despite all these years of Focusing practice and work, I still hold on to a part of me that wants to push away uncomfortable emotions. While I knew that striving to force change in a feeling is the very thing that stalls the Focusing process, I still couldn't help it. I also recognize that it might have something to do with a lack of trust in the Focusing process, of wanting to stay in control of it.

I was stuck.

Then during this Sunday just past, the bored feeling hit me again, very strongly. I also happened to be in an experimental mood. So I did this:

I sat quietly and allowed the feeling to exist in my body.

All I did was paid attention to my sitting posture, making sure my spine was comfortably upright.

Then the subtle urge to change the feeling came up. It too I allowed to simply exist in my body, by returning my attention to my posture, here and now.

I kept doing this, every time any feeling pops up or pools in my body. Immersing in my upright posture. No Focusing. No wanting to make anything different. If anything changes, ok. If it stays the same, ok too. All I wanted to do was to keep my bum on the chair.

Just sitting here, in an ordinary fashion.

After what seemed like a long time (which I later found to be only around 10 minutes), I noticed that these feelings had a different quality to them. They had settled as I had settled into my sitting posture, and I felt spacious. From this spaciousness, I felt into the bored feeling (like I would a loose tooth)'s the interesting part...

I felt it "open" up. I could experience different but subtle shades of other feelings in it, as yet unnameable. Instead of the urge to change these feelings, I noticed that I was naturally curious and fascinated. And beneath this, was a broad sense that it's ok to just feel this way. To truly allow a feeling to unfold.

Time did not allow me to continue further, but from this short experiment, I learnt to embody something that I only up till now knew intuitively - to allow and make space for feelings to unfold in their own way, and to allow their feeling-stories to emerge in their own manner.

I think maybe now I might begin to understand what Focusing is about.

What about you? Next time you feel something stuck, literally sit ON it, and simply attend to the physical act of sitting still. Whatever comes up inside of you - feelings, or thoughts, simply sit ON it. Give it time by taking time to sit without any other distractions (like our best friend - our mobile phones). See what happens.

The moral-of-the-story: We often assume that we need to have a lot of things or do a tone of actions to make changes happen. While that is sometimes true, for the most part, we tend to do too much and get in the way of things unfolding in their own way. If we don't meddle in our own lives, we might just start to truly live more freely.


P.S. I got the sitting on it idea from a form of Buddhist practice called Zazen or more specifically, Shikantaza - which means to engage in the act of solely sitting still. You don't have to do it this way if it's against your sensibilities. Just sit how you would normally sit, and be physically still.

De-Cluttering The Mind - A Korean Experiment

De-Cluttering The Mind - A Korean Experiment

Jane Goodall, Mindfulness and Our Emotions