How often have you been sitting in meditation, and the thought arises, “what am I doing this for, anyway?.” This can be one response to the experience of the mind wandering and the body feeling uncomfortable, especially for beginners to the practice, but certainly not limited to the novice. It happens at times to all of us. These thoughts arise from a place of skepticism and are some of the most pernicious obstacles to practicing meditation. Therefore, it is important to have a strategy from which to approach such an occurrence, or we risk abandoning the practice altogether.
The meditation master and prolific writer, Thich Nhat Hanh, titled one of his most popular books, “The Miracle of Mindfulness,” so perhaps there is something to this aspect of mind. If we look more closely into the qualities of mind that co-arise with mindfulness, we can gain some insight into the magnitude of its miraculous power.
Mindfulness is considered a wholesome or skillful mental factor, and it is helpful to know that an unskillful and a skillful mental factor cannot co-exist in the same mind moment. Thus each moment we are mindful, we are in a healthy mental state of being, preventing the unskillful from intruding. Some unskillful state will certainly arise again; however, as soon as we become mindful of that state, we are again in a healthier state of mind. With practice, we progressively cultivate a disposition toward being more mindful and, by extension, healthier and skillful. The magnitude of wholesome mental factors that co-arise with mindfulness may help to explain its effectiveness.
Within each moment of mindfulness, other healthy mental factors co-exist that enhance its transformative power. Equanimity, or balance of mind, is an important mental factor co-arising with mindfulness, enabling us to “be with what is” and not be thrown off center. Embedded in equanimity are also qualities of generosity and kindness, bringing the heart into the matter. Moreover, faith or conviction co-arises as well, countering the doubt that can hinder practice. And it doesn’t stop here, with the list going on to include self-respect, respect for others, tranquility, lightness, malleability, proficiency, and rectitude.
So, the next time your thoughts tend to have a negative tone, consider it an opportunity to simply hold them in awareness. Mindfulness helps us to step back and no longer be embedded in a negative experience. Then remember the magnitude of mindfulness. You are unleashing powerful positive forces that can bring about miraculous results in just that moment!
At Duke Health & Well-Being, we offer several Mindfulness programs, from online drop-in sessions to multi-day programs. Explore our programs and find calm in the midst of change.
Experience Mindfulness – Online Drop-In – No previous meditation experience is necessary
Day of Mindfulness – Half-Day Intensive to Expand or Renew Your Mindfulness Practice
Mindfulness-Based Relationship Enhancement Program – A mindfulness program for couples
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