“We Don’t Want to be Right, We Want to be Happy”: toward a new definition of mindfulness

Posted: July 28, 2015 in Uncategorized
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Mindfulness is one of the hottest catchphrases I’ve heard in a while; it’s been around forever, and is the cornerstone in multiple therapeutic modalities, but now it’s truly coming into fashion.

Yoga enthusiasts will be familiar with mindfulness; for those new to the idea, it’s being present in the moment, observing without judgement.  Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) rests on an assumption of mindful practice.  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) encourages participants to observe their thought patterns and how thoughts impact judgement, emotions and behavior; one must be mindful to be able to identify thoughts.  Mindfulness is helpful for cancer patients, people with chronic pain, people with severe mental health concerns, sports stars, businessmen and politicians.

Mindfulness practice is just that – it takes practice, a LOT of practice.  Trying different techniques is not only encouraged, it’s necessary to create a strong mindful practice.

(if you want suggestions for how to try mindfulness, look here, here and here for examples)

During the yoga class I attend each Thursday, we practice mindfulness meditation at the beginning and end of the class; our cool-down meditation includes our instructor speaking softly, guiding relaxation through our bodies and different chakras, along with the energies these bodily areas control.  The stomach digests change, the liver is where we hold resentments.  Our instructor encourages us to release all old hurts and angers, so we don’t hurt ourselves or others with them; she reminds us we don’t have to re-experience these old events to let them go, and that this anger does not define us.  She says we don’t want to be right, we want to be happy.

Every Thursday, parts of this speech bother me.  The world is unjust and unfair; each day, people are being oppressed, tortured, discriminated against.  And I think it’s right to be angry and stay angry about these things.

Letting go doesn’t mean forgetting; it doesn’t mean going along as if we agree.  Acceptance does not mean agreement.

Acceptance is taking reality as it is, not as we wish it to be.  It’s accepting this is the world we live in, and understanding what we can and cannot control.  Anger is a helpful tool.  Anger is a useful, appropriate emotion; it can spur us to further action and encouragement of others to make change.  But we can’t internalize it, or it will kill us.

Many women and men have written about this, much more eloquently than I can hope to do.

Is it possible to be right and happy?

Until then, we need a definition of mindfulness acknowledging anger as reasonable, understandable, and something that defines people all over the world.  Mindfulness; to be angry, hopeful and understanding; to have compassion for yourself and others; to accept reality, while disagreeing with how the world exists.

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