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Foundational Attitudes of Mindfulness Trust (4 of 9)
Jon Kabat-Zinn talks about the attitude of mindfulness "trust" what it means and why it is important.
In the previous videos, Jon Kabat-Zinn introduced us to the “first” and “second” attitudes of mindfulness, non-judging, patience and beginner’s mind. In this video, Jon Kabat-Zinn talks about the fourth attitude of mindfulness, that of “trust.”
For many, starting a meditation practice involves a leap of faith as we might be highly sceptical of how a practice of sitting and observing the breath and noticing when the mind wanders away from the breath and coming back to the breath might be helpful towards our well-being. So, starting a mindfulness practice requires a degree of trust in the process of learning meditation, making trust a fundamental attitude towards learning mindfulness.
Further in “Full Catastrophe Living”, Kabat-Zinn (2013) writes,
“Developing a basic trust in yourself and your feelings is an integral part of meditation training. It is far better to trust in your intuition and your own authority, even if you make some “mistakes” along the way, than always to look outside of yourself for guidance. If at any time something doesn’t feel right to you, why not honour your feelings? Why should you discount them or write them off as invalid because some authority or some group of people think or say differently? This attitude of trusting yourself and your own basic wisdom and goodness is very important in all aspects of the meditation practice.” (p. 36)
Therefore, learning to be mindful and reaping the rewards of meditation requires a certain degree of basic trust in ourselves.
Why might this be so? Because, as the above implies, mindfulness practice involves a 180-degree shift in perspective where instead of depending on resources outside of ourselves for guidance, we depart from the perspective that we first have to look inward to see how a situation is making us feel and objectively acknowledge this without judgement or preference, with acceptance but more importantly without grasping onto and getting lost or pushing away how a situation is making us feel. This is reflected in the way Kabat-Zinn (1994) defines mindfulness as,
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally” (ibid., p. 4).
Or more broadly speaking, as Bishop et al. (2004) pointed out how, mindfulness is usually conceptualised as,
“Nonelaborative, non-judgmental, present-centred awareness in which each thought, feeling, or sensation that arises in the attentional field is acknowledged and accepted as it is” (ibid., p. 232).
Ultimately, such a stance might allow enough space so as not to make a knee-jerk reaction to situations we encounter but to respond to them, taking more compassionate action towards oneself and others. As Viktor Frankl, the author of “Man’s Search for Meaning”, has been attributed to have said,
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Mindfulness can help in tapping into and cultivating that space. Consequently, with time, this can help us develop an internal sense of trust in ourselves, feelings, and intuition.
This is because, as Kabat-Zinn eludes in the video, listening to our feelings and intuition more openly without grasping or pushing away how we feel can help us become more mindful of how our mind and body interact with the things around us. As Kabat-Zinn further comments in the video,
“The more we can learn to bring trust to ourselves, the more we can actually learn to bring trust to our relationships and to other people and to nature and to the various challenges that we face in life so that we can actually reside in our own confidence in our own ability to meet whatever comes towards us in ways that can be effective.”
P.S. The upcoming post will introduce the fifth attitude of mindfulness, “non-striving.”
Bishop, S. R., Lau, M., Shapiro, S., Carlson, L., Anderson, N. D., Carmody, J., . . . Devins, G. (2004). Mindfulness: A proposed operational definition. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 11(3), 230-241. doi:10.1093/clipsy.bph077
Frankl, V. E. (2006). Man’s search for meaning. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.
Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994). Wherever you go, there you are. New York, NY: Hyperion.
Kabat-Zinn, J. (2013). Full catastrophe living: How to cope with stress, pain and illness using mindfulness meditation (Revised and updated ed.). New York, NY: Random House USA Inc.