We incline to activities that align with our values, rather than being swayed by fads and fashions. We reflect on how we make a livelihood and the impact it has on others. We see the sense in rejecting association or involvement with destructive behaviour. When we witness mistreatment, cruelty and injustice, we more readily take a stand against them.
Taking Care of Life
Active engagement with this troublesome world is as much part of ‘practice’ as appreciating its joys and wonders. True mindful living is not reducible to watching the breath on a meditation cushion; it means being dynamically in the world, with eyes wide open.
Such a comprehensive ‘taking care’ of life is what links mindfulness organically to friendliness – the willingness to move close to, respect and connect with. To be discerning about what we consume, physically and mentally, and thoughtful about what we produce, in both word and deed, is to approach life with open hands and an open heart.
Becoming more discriminating in how we take in the world, and cognizant of what we put into it, leads to a more nourishing experience for everyone. Mindfulness takes the form of a rapport with other beings and greater tolerance of the vicissitudes of life. Whatever shows up, we breathe with it, respond intentionally, observe what happens and learn from experience.
Good Practice Guidelines
Mindfulness is rooted in an ethical foundation for living. Cultivating awareness goes hand-in-hand with freeing oneself from destructive habits and careless acts. A traditional five-fold scheme to support one’s practice is:
- To avoid harming living beings
- To avoid taking what is not freely given
- To avoid causing suffering through sexual behaviour
- To avoid speaking untruths
- To avoid indulging unmindful states through alcohol or drugs.
These five guidelines, expressed above as abstentions, also have a flipside. When lived by, they express themselves in their positive aspect, which are, respectively:
- To act with kindness and compassion
- To act generously
- To practise contentment in one’s relationships
- To communicate truthfully and recognise falsity
- To act mindfully.
From: Mindfulness for Unravelling Anxiety, 2016.