Zen Buddhist nun Sister True Dedication asks us to step into our lives at each individual step. I have added her ted talk on Mindful Walking, in it she includes not only a how to but also an uplifting challenge to engage our whole being in the present moment, to be wholly and fully present.
She asks “when we rush are we saving time or losing it?” I ponder this often in my classes and workshops, I ask participants to consider
the trap of busy, consider how we have become conditioned to align busy with important, with a reason to not be present, not rest, not be available. Being in a rush also has us not fully embracing all facets of life. Sister True Dedication asks us to accompany our fear, our anxiety and pain, rather than avoid it or ignore it. This is a strategy also evidenced in positive psychology and social work theory, when we acknowledge and accept the negative parts of life we are better able to enjoy and savour the positive ones. Acknowledging and naming our feelings, thoughts and emotions builds resilience, self-awareness and emotional intelligence.
An example of this 'seeking to avoid' from my own recent experience is people avoiding grief, side stepping and ignoring the very real and valid overwhelming sense of loss when a loved one is diagnosed with a life limiting illness. The need to stay strong or appear strong is so common in our culture that we have forgotten how to sit with discomfort, not only our own but that of others.
We are bombarded with ‘positive vibes only’ messages from every single angle and the yogi and social worker in me is horrified every time I see these forms of toxic positivity. The pressure to stay positive has changed how we understand optimism, turned it from a form of power to an oppressive tool to minimise suffering for our own comfort. There is something wrong with you if you cannot immediately see the silver lining or make sense of your circumstances.
The Zen Buddhist tradition has always resonated with me because they do not pretend life is always perfect and that spiritual work and meditation will avoid suffering. The idea is to be present, to acknowledge, to feel intentionally and the focus is then on how we respond. It is ok to be sad, to be angry, to feel frustrated or envious, but how will you know this is how you feel without inquiry?
To me mindfulness is about inquiry. Inquiry of the self, of others, of the world and it starts with being curious. Sister True Dedication asks 3 questions in this talk as she teaches us how to walk mindfully. I highly recommend watching this or even listening to it while you take your next walk and ponder her questions, ponder yourself, ponder the trees, the air. and the world
Dedication, S. T. (1638823936). Sister True Dedication: 3 questions to build resilience -- and change the world | TED Talk. https://www.ted.com/talks/sister_true_dedication_3_questions_to_build_resilience_and_change_the_world