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Virtues in Paradise: The virtue and power of mindfulness

Saturday 22 July 2023 | Written by Supplied | Published in Opinion, Virtues in Paradise


What is the difference between feeling stressed “out of our minds” and being fully present in this moment, serene yet alert? By Linda Kavelin-Popov.

It’s the virtue of mindfulness, deep engagement balanced with detachment and awareness of our own agency.

We cannot control what happens, but we have the freedom to respond consciously and ably to whatever happens.

Author Stephen Covey wrote, “Between the stimulus and the response, there is always choice.”

Whatever emotions arise, mindfulness helps us to feel them, step back and observe them, then consciously choose our response.

That’s why it’s wise to pause when angry to either walk away or count to ten.  

I once discovered in a very real and practical way how powerful it is to apply mindfulness when threatened by another’s irrational use of power.

I was called to meet with the executive director of an organisation after meeting with the board of directors the week before. I presented a proposal, and the board unanimously accepted it.

As I took a seat in his office, the ED casually informed me that he had decided to override and reverse the decision.

I felt blind-sided by anger for a moment and tears threatened. Oh no, I was not going to cry in front of this man. I excused myself to retreat to the women’s room to pray.

Suddenly, a thought appeared -- a Buddhist teaching about what to do with anger. Bring it deep inside, picture it as a sword, wrap the light of truth around it and bring it forth shining with justice and clarity.

This thought calmed me deeply. I went back into the room and spoke firmly to this man who had power over me, describing one by one, the consequences should he reverse the decision the board had made.

His face turned beet red, and he replied gruffly, “Fine! Have it your way.”  In that teachable moment, I marveled at the power of mindfulness to transform the energy of anger into justice.

Here are three ways to cultivate mindfulness. First, create a daily routine of reverence – a practice of reflection, prayer, and meditation. There are many ways to meditate, such as reflecting on gratitude, pondering the meaning of scripture, chanting a mantra, breath meditations, or opening yourself to divine guidance and listening for a response to prayer. You can visualise yourself communing with wise ones from the spiritual realm – your “A-Team” of angels, ancestors, and advisors. Keep a journal to record your thoughts, dreams, and lessons.

Second, bring yourself to account each day with fearless honesty and compassion, noting progress as well as ways to work on your growth virtues. Third, be in your body. Be aware of your breathing. Touch your bare feet to the earth. Be mindful of what you see, smell, hear, and taste. Reduce the time you spend on electronics. Spend time in the beauty of nature and experience stillness.

“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10). Refuse to rush. Mindfully reset the way you use your time and energy to a pace of grace that supports you to make self-care a priority. It will help you to be too blessed to be stressed.