Last night I had dinner with a close friend whose fiance is currently undergoing radiation and chemotherapy. In the past three months, the normalcy of their daily lives has transformed into an alternate reality. A reality where multiple medications must be taken at specific times, appointments with doctors must be kept, and a myriad of alternative healing treatments must be explored.
Sitting with this woman over the course of the evening, I listened intently and sensitively as she talked about her current experience. With an abundance of poise and grace, she shared from a deeply centered, grounded, and vulnerable place. Although the reality of the situation is profoundly overwhelming, my friend was able to connect to the universal understandings of life’s unknowns and how important it is to approach them with curiosity and moment-to-moment awareness.
Ultimately, in the moments that I beared witnessed, this woman was her highest and most mindful self amidst the most challenging of circumstances.
The practice of Mindful Living embodies three pillars: Presence, Acceptance, and Compassion.
Presence is a practice of grounding in the Now, developed from a heightened awareness and observation of one’s mind and one’s self. When we are in a state of presence, we are in the moment; not over-identifying with our thoughts and our feelings (which are often simply our attachments to the past or our fears about the future).
The practice of acceptance is created only after we have cultivated the foundation of presence. By being fully in the moment, we become capable of truly seeing things as they are. It is in this state of seeking and acknowledging the highest truth, that we begin to challenge our personal perceptions, lenses, and filters. In order to truly cultivate acceptance, we must be willing to unravel the innumerable coping mechanisms and ways of being in the world that do not serve us. In doing so, we are able to embrace all of the suffering and uncertainty of life with an open heart and a profoundly steady sense of self.
Compassion is empathy in action towards ourselves, towards others, and towards the universe at large. It is a skill drawn from a heightened sense of self-knowing in order to be deployed with ultimate authenticity. When we are able to deeply understand and appreciate all of who we are, compassion becomes an effortless expression of our own unique fullness.
As I listened to my friend share, feel, and express herself, I couldn’t help but notice: 1) how present she was to the situation, 2) how accepting and real she was about of all of the unknowns and potential outcomes, 3) and how compassionate she was in her approach towards fighting cancer and being a caregiver while staying true to her needs on this journey.
Illness is only one example of the many ways that life throws us unexpected challenges. Our relationships, work, financial stability, self-care, self-expression, and sense of purpose and meaning in our lives often stretch and overwhelm us. As we are encouraged to operate from neverending places of ‘doing’, our ability to connect with our highest self in order to simply ‘be’ can feel out of reach.
Over the course of the next five weeks, we will be gathering together as a community to ask questions, support one another in curiosities, and embark on the practice of Mindful Living. Together we will learn the tools and skills needed to better understand ourselves and others with presence, acceptance, and compassion.
In turn, we will begin to lead happier, healthier, and more purposeful lives.
I can’t wait to share this journey with you. Learn more and join me today.