The Seven Attitudes of Mindfulness: An excerpt from Turbo Metabolism
Guest post by Pankaj Vij, MD, FACP
As the modern Western lifestyle spreads around the globe, so too does metabolic syndrome — a cluster of symptoms that increases the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other conditions. The good news: metabolic syndrome can be tamed by a sensible program of exercise, natural foods, stress management, and quality sleep. In his new book Turbo Metabolism, Dr. Vij distills a mass of medical research into a simple, effective program for vibrant health. Avoiding fads and gimmicks, he provides practical advice, case studies of ordinary people, and brief sections that debunk common medical myths. We hope you’ll enjoy this short excerpt from the book.
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Managing stress requires being mindful about the here and now. The barrage of stimuli we endure every day from all our electronic gadgets is the antithesis of mindfulness. Technology is constantly distracting us with stimuli from outside our current time and place.
The next time you are walking in a park on a spectacular sunny day, note how many people are staring at their electronic devices, sending or receiving messages or checking social media, when they could be enjoying the present time and place. Our modern-day addiction to devices that are supposedly “connecting us” is actually taking us to a place other than the here and now. Why are we so afraid to observe our own thoughts that we constantly need to fill our mind-space with busywork?
The Seven Attitudes of Mindfulness
Here are seven attitudes that define or contribute to mindfulness: nonjudgment, patience, beginner’s mind, trust, nonstriving, acceptance, and letting go.
Nonjudgment: Take the stance of an impartial witness to your own experience as it happens. This is the ideal “witness state” of a human being. Notice the stream of thoughts and judgments: “This thought is good/bad/neutral.” Become aware without trying to stop the flow. The mind is constantly judging situations and people, but mindfulness means seeing things as they are without adding judgment.
Patience: Let things unfold in their own time, and practice patience with yourself. A child may try to help a butterfly emerge by breaking open a chrysalis, but this will likely harm or kill the butterfly. Why rush through some moments in order to get to other, “better” ones? Your life is what you experience in each moment. No particular experience is better or worse than another; only our judgments label them as such. Be completely open to each moment, accepting its fullness, knowing that, like the butterfly, things will emerge in their own time.
Beginner’s mind: Too often we let our thinking and our beliefs about what we “know” stop us from seeing things as they really are. Cultivate a willingness to see everything as if for the first time. Be receptive to new possibilities. Don’t get stuck in a rut of your own expertise. Recognize that each moment is unique and contains unique possibilities.
Try cultivating a beginner’s mind with someone you know: Ask yourself if you are seeing this person with fresh eyes, as he or she really is. Ask yourself the same question with your problems, with the sky, with your dog, with the clerk in the corner shop.
Trust: Develop a basic trust in yourself and your feelings. Trust in your own authority and intuition, even if you make some “mistakes” along the way. Honor your feelings. Take responsibility for yourself and your own well-being.
Nonstriving: Practicing mindfulness means seeking no goal other than being who you already are. Pay attention to how you are right now, whatever that is. Just watch. The best way to achieve your own goals is to back off from striving and instead focus on carefully seeing and accepting things as they are, moment by moment. With patience and regular practice, movement toward your goal will happen by itself.
Acceptance: See things as they actually are in the present. If you have a headache, accept that you have a headache. We often waste a lot of time and energy denying what is fact. We try to force situations into how we would like them to be. This creates more tension and prevents positive change from occurring. Now is the only time we have for anything. You have to accept yourself as you are before you can really change.
Acceptance is not passive; it does not mean you have to like everything about yourself and abandon your principles and values. It does not mean that you should stop trying to break free of your own self-destructive habits or give up your desire to change and grow. Acceptance is a willingness to see things as they are. You are much more likely to know what to do and have an inner conviction to act when you have a clear picture of what is actually happening.
Letting go: Letting go is a way of letting things be, of accepting things as they are. Let things go and just watch. If you find it particularly difficult to let go of something because it has such a strong hold on your mind, you can direct your attention to what “holding on” feels like. Holding on is the opposite of letting go. Looking at the ways we hold on will show a lot about its opposite. You already know how to let go. Every night when we allow ourselves to fall asleep, we let go.
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Pankaj Vij, MD, FACP, is the author of Turbo Metabolism. As a doctor of internal medicine, he has helped thousands of patients lose weight, manage chronic health conditions, and improve their physical fitness. Visit him online at http://www.doctorvij.com.
Excerpted from the book Turbo Metabolism. Copyright ©2018 by Pankaj Vij, MD. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.