Our Slow Journey to Love
Wise people throughout the ages have, at the end of a long life of searching, concluded that the only thing that really matters is love. Of course there are many kinds of love - romantic, infatuation, platonic, etc. But I suspect wise folks are in sync with John Welwood's definition:
"a potent blend of openness and warmth, which allows us to make real contact, to take delight in and appreciate, and to be at one with – ourselves, others, and life itself."
The openness refers to heart, mind and eyes - true love is not blind. Anthony de Mello:
"The first act of love is to see this person or this object, this reality as it truly is. And this involves the enormous discipline of dropping your desires, your prejudices, your memories, your projections, your selective way of looking ... a discipline so great that most people would rather plunge headlong into good actions and service than submit to the burning fire of this asceticism."
While we don't tend to associate "love" with "enormous discipline", mindfulness does indeed combine them. Mindfulness is a gradual, lifelong practice of learning to see clearly and love unconditionally.
But everyone's life is not filled with love, nor qualities we associate with love: safety, security, respect, kindness, care, dependability, peace, openness, flexibility, etc. Many more people than we, or even they themselves realize, live with the effects of trauma: http://healthyhealers.blogspot.ca/2017/03/many-causes-of-trauma-ptsd.html
“If you feel safe and loved, your brain becomes specialized in exploration, play, and cooperation;
if you are frightened and unwanted, it specializes in managing feelings of fear and abandonment.”
Bessel Van Der Kolk. “The Body Keeps the Score. Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma.” Penguin Books, 2015.
Since all of us have experienced varying levels of trauma, we ALL to some extent resist the unarmored return to clarity & unconditional love. Resisting mindfulness practice is perfectly normal! So a huge part of mindfulness practice is about eternal patience, kindness & perseverance.
This points out the critical importance of creating a safe holding environment for teaching mindfulness; for both facilitators & participants to accept ourselves and others as we are; and focusing on the process (vs goal) ie accepting & being satisfied with slow progress. No matter how "imperfect" we are now, we're all doing our best, given our unique blend of genetic & environmental history.
Courtesy of Buddha Doodles www.buddhadoodles.com