Understanding The Nine Attitudes of Mindfulness

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Before I adopted a mindfulness practice I was a self-loathing, people-pleasing, overachieving, overthinking, overworking-myself-seven-days-a-week-for-12-plus-hours-a-day kind of woman. I dedicated my life to my career — and one day the rug was pulled out from under me and I lost my job that I gave EVERYTHING to. That moment became the catalyst to some dark nights in my soul which led to some severe medical issues caused by the stress of trying to fix it all. (We’ll save that juicy story for another time.)

I was a shell of a human walking into my first mindfulness class with Michele Chaban and Michael Apollo at The University of Toronto. My sister signed me up for the Foundations of Mindfulness Meditation program alongside her and it brought me back to life. My emotions came pouring out in the form of tears, heavy sobs, apologies for crying, and lots and lots of black cat tissues — and I’ve been trying to understand them ever since. After every class I found a piece of myself that I had lost along the way and started coming back to life. Mindfulness helped me realize that everything you need to heal yourself is within you and it’s not as complicated as you’re making it seem in your head. Get yourself out of your head and into your body.

Mindfulness is more than just meditation and sitting on a cushion — it’s a lifestyle, a way of living with attention and intention. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the Father of Mindfulness, wrote the 9 Attitudinal Foundations of Mindfulness which may serve you as a guideline on how to think and be more mindful:

NON JUDGEMENT is the impartial witnessing of your thoughts either positive or negative, feelings and sensations as they arise in the body, a tightening in the chest, butterflies in your stomach and noticing them with kindness and intentionality, resisting the inclination to judge and criticize our experience. When we cultivate non-judgment, we create more space for kindness, compassion, empathy, and connection.

PATIENCE is allowing things to unfold in their own time and releasing the need to control the situation for a particular outcome. Stop rushing and start arriving.

BEGINNER’S MIND is the willingness to see everything as if for the first time with fresh curiosity. Look at objects, people, and places as if it were for the first time with a child-like sense of wonder.

TRUST in the validity of our own felt experiences and allow you to see for yourself from your experience what is true and untrue. Go with your gut.

NON-STRIVING with an attitude of willingness to allow the present to be the way it is without trying to fix or make something happen. Striving can interfere with your awareness of the present and one’s ability to respond rather than opposed to reacting.

ACCEPTANCE and acknowledgement is bringing openness to, kindness towards, and welcoming of experience as it is in the moment. It’s not about being passive it’s recognizing things for the way they are. Resistance to things is what leads to stress and anxiety.

LETTING GO and simply letting things be as they are without the need to try and control your thoughts, feelings or actions. Release the feeling of being trapped by your feelings of anxiety, know that the sensations in your chest are just sensations, they are not a part of you, and they will pass if you let them.

GRATITUDE is a recent addition to the Attitudinal Foundations of Mindfulness, originally cited as 7 in Full Catastrophe Living, Jon felt the need to add the attitude of gratitude. Gratitude allows you to bring attention to all the good in your life keeping you from wallowing on all the things going wrong.

GENEROSITY, another new addition, calls on you to bring happiness to others by giving them your presence and full attention. In a world where we’re rushing off from one meeting to the next giving someone your time and attention is a meaningful gift.

Adapted from Jon Kabat-Zinn in “Full Catastrophe Living”

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You come to a mindfulness practice one of two ways: curiosity or chaos. I can say with gratitude in my heart that I am grateful for all the shit and all the chaos I have been through because it has made me more grateful for knowing that I can get through the hard times and if I lose myself in the chaos I will find my way back. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not floating on a cloud with birds chirping over my shoulders. You can’t change 36 years of one-way of thinking overnight. It’s a practice and you are given opportunities every day for you to practice mindfulness and I promise you, you will notice the difference the next time a stressful situation decides to show up in your life.

Check out this video with Jon Kabat-Zinn where he expands on this list. And stay tuned on our IGTV as the team takes a deep dive on each of the 9 Attitudes Of Mindfulness!