by Berenice Boxler.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program, has highlighted nine qualities as core aspects of the mindfulness practice. If we practice these qualities and cultivate them within ourselves, it can help us to lead a conscious and awake life, a life in the here and now and with everything that comes with it: ups and downs and the middle.
Trust is one of these qualities. What does that mean? Jon Kabat-Zinn grounds the feeling of trust in the body (Here is a YouTube-video on the nine qualities): We can trust in the body and in its wisdom to tell us what it needs. If we would just listen to it from time to time… We can trust that the breath flows in and out again. We can trust that our senses work, some more and some less. This trust in the body can be cultivated by perceiving and acknowledging what is happening. I trust to wake up in the morning. I trust to see when I open my eyes. I trust to breathe, no matter how the breath feels like right now. And why should heart and mind be different? With practice we can learn to trust that we can deal with life. And indeed, the practice leads to becoming more and more intimate with the inner processes and thus to recognize patterns and develop trust: Ah, when that happens, stress arises. When I do this, my body relaxes. And so on.
How does this look like concretely in everyday life?
In a few days I will be driving south, the 20-year high school graduation meeting is coming up. I’m looking forward to it, first of all, to my time-out and hotel, but also to a unique event that will pull me out of my comfort zone. I am curious about the people, their inside and outside appearance, I am curious about former friends and foes of back then. And above all, I am curious about what will happen inside me and with me. I don’t see it as a test (“How far am I? Are there still old wounds that I thought had been processed long ago?”), but simply as an expedition whose outcome I can’t and won’t plan. Films are already running in my head about how certain encounters might look like, and I watch them with amusement. How exciting! And yes, I know pretty well how I would like to be during the weekend: relaxed, cheerful, fit, interested and curious, friendly, not resentful, grown-up, self-confident.
Dealing with life
And I also know pretty well that I won’t be like this for 48 hours. But that’s fine. Because in the past year, trust has grown. Trust in me, that I have learned to feel feelings, to allow them and to name them. Everything may be, everything is part of me and my story. There is trust in my body, that it will clearly indicate me it needs a break or fresh air, when it would like a dance or when it is actually not hungry at all, but the appealing buffet and my inner protectors and distractors pull me to eating. Trust in the power of the practice of presence, mindfulness and compassion, for others and especially for me.
I am what I choose to become
Recently I read the following quote from Carl Jung: “I am not what has happened to me. I am what I choose to become.” This sentence fell on very fertile ground and has been with me every day ever since. Whatever has happened, whether 25 years ago, 10 weeks ago or yesterday (and no matter with whom, how painful or why) – it does not define what I am. Every day and every moment I can and I will decide anew how and who I want to be in order to live my own life. The question is not whether old patterns, forgotten stories and a cocktail of feelings will show up on the weekend. They will. But there is this cultivated and grown trust that I will and can face everything. And that there is this unshakable knowledge that every moment I can start anew to become what I choose to become. It will be exciting!
P.S. On November 14th, a 4-week advanced course will start for people who already have experience with mindfulness (e.g. through an MBSR course or some other practice). It will be about the nine qualities of mindfulness and the implementation in everyday life. There are still places available! You can find more information here. The course will be held in German.