Yesterday I spoke to thousands of my closest friends when I kicked off the SEA (secular, eclectic, academic) homeschoolers conference, once again. Such great people, such great minds. Some of the most well-intentioned, kind people on Planet Earth.
As I open classes for Summer--and a July class for Financial Advisors will be added soon--I think about the notion of beginner's mind, hence the above quote. When we sit or stand or lie down to meditate, we're essentially setting ourselves up to do something we've done many thousands of times already. As we say, "You may have done this practice before, but you haven't done it this time."
Curiosity and Mindfulness
Thinking, "I've already done this before--I don't need to do this" is the kiss of death for a mindfulness practice. Instead, we must meet each moment with wonder and curiosity--with curious friendliness, excited for the moment's significance to be revealed to us.
"No(one) ever steps in the same river twice,
for it's not the same river and (one) is not the same."
We can get into ruts of knowing. We think we know ourselves, we think we know others, we think we know how things work (whatever the things are). You need travel no farther than the brain in your skull to find something we thought we knew a bunch about, and now it seems we need to retract some of that in favor of what the evidence now suggests, or has always suggested. (See Iain McGilchrist and Lisa Feldman Barrett.) Trying to keep up with neuroscience is humbling.
Learning You, Liking You
During my Q&A yesterday, there was discussion about the negative self-talk of children and parents (different people asking about each, slightly differently. Although this self-talk is a habit that can be replaced by a different one with intentional focus on it, that's an outside-in approach.
Negative self-talk comes from somewhere: negative and limiting beliefs. It comes from a mindset about yourself and a feeling toward yourself. Learning self-compassion alone, can change that mindset, however reframing and self-compassion is a pair of skills that much more thoroughly deal with the wound.
We learn in mindfulness class--simply by being present and listening--that we all carry deep wounds. The self-awareness cultivated in the class allows us to touch our pain and suffering a little bit at a time or a lot. The skills learned allow us choice and agency around how we experience our wounds. We don't ignore or avoid them; we befriend them. Only by doing so can we learn to love them and the rest of ourselves and sit with our wholeness. Self-compassion arises when we can do this and helps us do this.
The negative self-talk, at that point, is something you used to do, that you can even be grateful for, as it got you where you wanted to be. You learned and continue to learn yourself, and you like yourself.
May you be at ease . . .