It also serves as an important tool for working with stressful situations. As mindfulness builds our capacity to pause and take action from a more grounded place of wisdom, we can use this expanded frame of reference to keep things that may send us reeling--like someone cutting us off in traffic--in perspective. Do we really want to expend our precious time and energy getting mad at a stranger for a near miss?
While traveling in Thailand, one of the first things I noticed was the lack of aggressive attitudes as people maneuvered hurriedly in traffic. We were in Bangkok (you can read more about this Here) where traffic is heavy throughout most of the day. But people's attitude seemed more like, "How can we all get to where we're going quickly and safely?" Driver attention had to be keen, but the attitude was different, as if everyone knew that we are all on our way to somewhere important, we're all part of a family and we're all part of the larger community--in other words, we're in this together.
This larger view of the world can bring a spaciousness awareness and perspective to our actions. Mindfulness gives us more choice in our responses, so we can choose an attitude like this: "May you arrive on time and safely to your destination." How much peace would you feel if you knew that everyone on the road was looking out for each other?
How much peace would you feel if you knew that everyone on the road
Peaceful? Alert? Caring? Present?
The good news is that we don't have to wait for others to pick up this attitude, we can adopt it ourselves today. And while this adoption of a purposeful attitude may not change anyone else, I can pretty much guarantee that your experience will be less stressful and more pleasant.
This is just one example of how intentionally expanding our point of view can shift our experience not only of our stress, but of ourselves, others, and the larger community. It's one part in creating an expansive compassionate container that has greater acceptance and kindness toward all that is.
The Cultivating Spacious Awareness practice is one of many loving mindfulness exercises taught in Compassion-based Mindfulness courses. For more information on upcoming courses, visit HERE. and be sure to sign up on the email list HERE.
JoAnn Saccato, MA is a mindfulness teacher, author, life coach, educator, and consultant in Northern California. She is author of Companioning the Sacred Journey and the forthcoming Mindful and Intentional Living: A Path to Peace, Clarity and Freedom