I would like to share with you a very valuable concept within Mindfulness practice, one that I regularly reflect on. It is the cultivation of the Three Mindful Relationships; namely my relationship with the ‘Now’ the present moment, my relationship with myself, and my relationship with others.
I have come to know that our true home is the present moment, and that it is only in the present moment that peace, contentment and deep joy can only be authentically found. Since the present moment is all we ever have, a vitally important question for us all to contemplate is:
“What is my relationship with the Now?”
This question could be also framed as:
“How do I relate to myself?”
“How do I relate to others?”
“How much of my life am I truly present in?”
As we know, research has found that our mind wanders on average 47% of the time. This same study concluded that the mind wanders no matter what the present activity we are partaking in, and it also found that a strong predictor of our happiness will be based on how often the mind wanders and where it wanders to.
I have come to realise that real life can only be found and touched in the here and now. Our past is over and our future has not yet arrived, but yet we tend to spend most of our time lost in the stories of both. Cultivating my relationship with the Now means a whole hearted surrendering to the present moment. A full acceptance of what is right here, right now. Where I let go of the resistance towards what this moment is offering me.
My Relationship with the Present Moment
Life is happening in the Here & Now, but often the here and now seems boring, painful, a struggle or lacking in some way. It doesn’t seem enough! Throughout each day we constantly move our attention away from the here & now as our wandering monkey mind has such momentum, wandering to the past memories, or to future events.
Since there is no moment other than the present one, any notion of the past or the future is ever only a concept in the head — a thought. Once realised, we can begin to cultivate the following:
- Open Awareness – the experience of consciousness is always functioning in the backdrop of our lives, we all already have it and we always have. Awareness could also be described as wakefulness, within which we watch the lens through which we are seeing and reading the present moment.
- Focused Attention – What I am paying attention to in each moment is building my mind, my experience and my life. We all have preferred practiced and predictable styles of attention, so I realised that it was vitally important for me to discover my own. Otherwise I was not seeing things as they were but rather as I was. Cultivating an open, objective and observing awareness has allowed me to notice when I have become enslaved by my habitual patterns and then gently shift the focus of my attention onto that which best serves me in that moment. Fully inhabiting each moment is so important, as it allows us to cultivate our awareness to notice when and where the mind has wandered. From that noticing we are able to redirect our attention back to the present moment.
- Kind Intention – Within Mindfulness practice I have begun to uncover and understand that which gives my life a sense of purpose and meaning. My sense of purpose has provided a direction for my life, allowing me to know what I want to express and uncovering the ways of doing that. As a result, the direction my life has taken is worthwhile to me and has given my life meaning. If we are mindful of the present moment, we can see deeply and things become clear. This moment becomes enough, all I need is found within the here and now.
Fully being in the Now, through an open awareness, focused attention and kind intention, makes – This Present Moment Enough!
My Relationship with Me
In the Four Establishments of Mindfulness, the Buddha offers four layers of mindfulness practice: mindfulness of the body, of the emotions, of the mind, and of the objects of mind. Practicing mindfulness at each layer can be the foundation of well-being and happiness.
When I don’t practice mindfulness, I suffer in my body, my mind, and in my relationships. However in practicing mindfulness, I have become a peaceful refuge for both myself and for others, as the seed of mindfulness in me has been watered I feel that I have grown in understanding, compassion, and transformation.
Self-compassion is a beautiful quality of meeting myself with kindness. By meeting my fears and anxieties with compassion I have become my own best friend. When I connect with the “present” I can truly bring my awareness to my relationship with myself, noticing what attitude I am bringing towards both my inner and outer experiences.
My mindful journey has allowed me to cultivate a true friendship of kindness and gentleness, as well as cultivating a deep gratitude for all my blessings, a willingness to be courageously vulnerable, as well have having a sense of creative adventure within me. I Am Enough!
My Relationship with You
I have truly come to realise that my relationship with the Now and with myself is the foundation upon which I build healthy relationships with others. Being mindfully present and giving other people my full attention is so important for establishing and maintaining good relationships. First of all, noticing how I am relating to others right now, in my thoughts, in my words and in my actions; asking myself: what are the attitudes I am bringing to this relationship and the people in my life.
My practice now seeks to understand another more than I need to be understood; my ability to understanding myself is enough, as I have found that by truly and compassionately understanding myself , I am able to empathetically understand another; thereby affording another to feel truly seen and heard.
I have found that empathy is the tool that has developed out of me being compassionate towards myself. It is a tool that strengthens over time just like a muscle. When I show others empathy I allow them to feel accepted, which encourages authenticity and intimacy to flourish in my relationships.
And by doing this, for the most part, I have found that my loved ones are more likely to behave in a similar way when I’m hurting – meeting my pain with the warm embrace of understanding and kindness.
By demonstrating presence, by mindfully listening, by hearing them, by seeing them and by ultimately seeking to understand another person, I am showing them that – They Are Enough!
Through Mindfulness I have been able to cultivate a practice of opened awareness, focused attention and kind intention. As a result so I have been able to nurture these three mindful relationships which has lead me into my most Mindful Life.