Intentional Acts of Kindness

This post was written a few years back and picked up by mindful.org when they first launched.  

 

Although kindness can be misunderstood as an ineffectual or even superficial nicety, it’s neither. Like many amazing practices I’ve learned through mindfulness training, kindness is inspiring, powerful, courageous and wise. It’s also disarming, compelling and transformative. In any given moment, the kindness you offer to yourself or to others affects what happens in the very next moment.

Twelve Things Mindfulness Is Not

Twelve Things Mindfulness Is Not

by Mary Ann Christie Burnside, EdD

1. Mindfulness is not what you think.

It’s a way of learning about how our minds work and coming to understand that we can’t control our minds any more than we can control other people. Our minds are always thinking. That’s the nature of the mind. Automatic mental activity: Thinking, thinking, judging, judging, thinking, judging, thinking and so on. Most of the time, we act on these thoughts (automatically), many of which are inaccurate or simply untrue.

Mindfulness FAQs

Mindfulness FAQs

This post was originally written for the students, staff and parents at Lexington High School.  Reproduced here for the rest of us.

  • WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?

Mindfulness, which is a special way of paying attention, is often described as the cultivation of present moment awareness with acceptance instead of judgment.  Also referred to as “mindful awareness,” it’s about noticing what we’re doing while we’re doing it, what we’re thinking when we’re thinking it, and how we’re feeling while we’re feeling it.

Just Non Do It.

By Mary Ann Christie Burnside

 

Mindfulness is often referred to as a kind of "non-doing."  The mind easily equates non-doing with doing nothing. Although this equation seems reasonable, rational, these two things are not equivalent.  In fact, the association itself is nothing more than a thought unless we mis-take it for the truth, which can happen.

Non-doing is not the same as doing nothing, just as knowing is not the same as thinking.  When we practice non-doing, we're letting ourselves be, just as we are in that moment.  We're letting others and all parts of our experience be, just as they are in that moment. We are not trying to get, change, fix, manipulate or control anything.  We are relating to what is, on purpose, from a different orientation.  Awake and aware.  Clear and still.  Friendly and connected. Open.

When we experience being and we're aware of thiseven for a moment, we're likely to notice how different this feels from the way we usually experience our lives.  With practice, we come to see clearly how much of a something this is.

 

What you seek is seeking you.
— Rumi

It's About Time. And Attention.

by Mary Ann Christie Burnside

Two days after I received my copy of "When Breath Becomes Air," the memoir of Dr. Paul Kalanithi, posthumously published on Jan 12, 2016, and a NY Times bestseller within two weeks, I finished it.  I won't say much about the book in this post.  You will no doubt hear about it from others, if you haven't already.  You may even read it yourself, which I fully encourage.

I do want to say that his book brings into sharp relief  the preciousness of life in a heartbreakingly beautiful way.  You might not think we need reminding of this basic truth.  I think we do.  We're always looking for more time, striving on and leaning into later, thinking all the while that we'll have the life we want or the one we deserve someday.  

Instead of waiting to live your life someday. become present-focused today.  You can begin by considering how your day (or life) would change if you approached it with willingness, curiosity, friendliness and gratitude.  If you made a commitment to live the moments you do have more fully, kindly and wisely.  It's a rich exercise which I often take up, on purpose (I could fill a book with my answers).

 Life is precious.  Not the one we will have or might have.  The one we actually have.  It does not come with a dress rehearsal, though we can practice living it well by choice. 

Right here, for now.  

The days are long, but the years are short.

~ Paul Kalanithi, MD