Life supports us, gently turning our heads towards beauty when we are looking elsewhere. It also challenges us because it knows we are ready to rise to the occasion. Then why do we leave, looking for paradise somewhere else?
The urge to fight, flee, or freeze during difficult times is strong, biological, rehearsed from past experiences. Why stay if you're only going to get hurt? It helps to deepen the inquiry here. Is the threat real, or perceived? If perceived, do you have the physical, emotional, and spiritual support you need to stay?
Like many of you reading this, I have certain experiences I'd rather bypass. A patient with a laundry list of demands I don't have time to wash, dry, fold and iron. A tug of war conversation where I want to win and sustain minimal abrasions from the fight. A concern for a loved one or myself that feels like a nuclear threat rather than an opportunity for growth. Waking up from dreams that promote problems instead of peace.
So why learn to stay? According to a positive psychology article, the benefits of mindfulness are many, including:
-Decreased stress and psychological distress in adults and employees
-Enhanced mental health and functioning
-Increased emotion regulation and self-control
-Decreased anxiety, depression, worry, and rumination
-Reduced incidence of problem drinking and symptoms associated with problem drinking
-Enhanced academic achievement in students, due to improved ability to focus and improved attention
-Improved social and relational skills
-Reduction in aggression and problem behaviors in children
-Reduced symptoms of burnout in employees
-Decrease in turnover and turnover intentions at work
-Enhanced job performance
-Increased ability to cope with bullying
-Enhanced resilience in children
Though I appreciate the research, I trust my experience above all else. In addition to the benefits listed above, mindfulness has brought me to the greatest love I've ever known, the sweetest silence befriending me, freedom to fly beyond old stories and settings, a deep-rooted trust in where I'm standing.
I have this friend called Silence
always watching, always listening,
offering Kleenex to catch
sniffles and tears
or high fives and knowing smiles
to celebrate awareness-
a kind om on the inbreath,
a grounded shanti on the outbreath,
meeting whatever comes
with a deep bow,
trusting the messenger
to heal me.
I still get angry, sad, scared. I still have doubts. But I’m learning to stay, trusting the messenger to heal me. Pema Chödrön writes, “This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.”
May we all learn to stay. May we all have the support we need to trust this moment as the perfect teacher.