7 Pillars of Mindfulness

The Seven Pillars of Mindfulness.

Using Minfdulness and Meditation are foundations of my work.  Using the Pillars of Mindfulness, these attitudes will radiate out into your wider life.  Adopting these ways of being can calm our minds. That's why meditation comes into it. Because if you can calm your most primitive and primal part of your brain, the back part, the amygdala, if you can calm it, it literally helps you to think because when that part of the brain is fired in times of anxiety or stress, it releases hormones, which means that the front part of our very, very clever human brains (The prefrontal cortex) can literally no longer longer think. So, by calming our minds, we can tap into our deeper awareness of what is going on around us. Through mindful meditation, we can heighten those stages of awareness and gain more insight. From here, we can think of logical solutions; all of us are very capable of that.

Underlying all of mindful practice, are the ideas of kindness and compassion. With anything you approach, whether that's your job, your partner, your family or friends, even just doing a task and certainly with how you judge yourself, if you approach with kindness and compassion, the results will be kinder and more compassionate for you too.

Following on from these two basic ethical pillars of Mindfulness, there are 7 attitudinal ones of which I will give you an overview. If you begin by applying these Pillars to your approach to meditation, what will happen is that those will become such an integral part of the way you live that this will radiate out and all of these pillars then can apply to life in general.

The first Pillar Iwill start with is Beginner's Mind. Anytime you are meditating and therefore every time you're doing anything, approach it as if with the eye and the mind of a beginner; when I say the mind of beginners I think of the child. Children are beginning to do things for the first time and they're so curious. So the first time they discover that they can bang something, the first time they walk, or if they cry, they get attention. There is a curiosity and therefore the interest in whatever it is they are doing at that moment, the present. When you employ this attitude in meditation, it keeps our minds very focused and busy, which means that distracting thoughts, worries and stresses actually don't have much room to come in.

The second pillar is non-striving. So often when we start on a task, or we set ourselves a challenge we will be striving towards an end goal. With meditation, you may say," I can only meditate properly if I do it for an hour, or even 10 minutes." If I can't do that, then what happens? Perhaps there's lots of internal chatter about not being good, failing at it, it not being the right thing for me, as opposed to just saying, "okay, well whatever happens today happens, but my intention is to sit down for 10 minutes."

The next pillar is non attachment, meaning non attachment to thoughts whilst meditating. Thoughts come in and then out of your mind. You can put a visualisation with that of a cloud floating by in the sky, or a leaf on a river, going down the river and then floating away. The non attachment is to that thought within a meditation.

Alongside non attachment comes another pillar, which is acceptance; the acceptance that thoughts will come, we will fall into patterns of behaviour we don't like. And again we can apply this to the wider world. If you're not attached to a certain situation, if you're not attached to a certain way of being, then that letting go is easier and we can just see what else arises. It's really helpful to accept that things just are as they are sometimes. And with that acceptance, you'd be surprised at what can result. In certain times in your life, acceptance might be even more of a challenge: relationships or friendships ending, children growing up and changing, children leaving home, people dying, a pandemic. In those times, there isn't actually anything you can do so that acceptance can be really, really useful.

The next pillar is non judgement. So, again, let's take it back to the core, which is the meditation. The non judgement is not labelling things as good or bad or getting there. They just are, how they are.

Next, there's trust. Trust in the fact that the when you practice something, it gets stronger; trust in the fact that meditation will do you good just as it has helped so many people before you. Just trusting that all will come in time.

This runs along with the next and the final pillar: patience. Patience to wait for meditation to become embedded in your daily practice, patience to wait until there'll be a time when you sit for longer. Sometimes you can, sometimes you can't. If I think of this pillar for me in my wider life, if I have patience with myself, my patience with all of those around me and all of my situations can be a lot easier.

These are the Seven Pillars of mindfulness. And when you practice them, what you practice grows stronger.