There are two aspects to be aware of in Mindfulness. Technique and the attitude are equally important. Trying some the exercises on this site has shown you that we intend to allow everything in our experience to freely present itself, without needing to push it away or cling to it. We try to bring this attitude of curiosity to every part of our experience. We are open to whatever arises.
It is easy to be kind to someone we like or love.
My Wake Up call came when I was feeling in a rut at age 54 thinking I desperately need to do something memorable and Life-changing. I did and it was. I went to Uganda for 5 weeks as a Global Teacher to share my expertise with Ugandan teachers at Kitwetwe Primary School. I lived in the home of the Headteacher Kasangaki Johnson, You can read a longer version in my Journal under stories.
Mindfulness practice came unbidden. My hosts and I found Beginners’ Mind in all our interactions. Many had never seen a Mzungu (white-skinned person) before. We studied each other closely noting similarities and differences.
My Wake Up was going to Uganda as a Global teacher for 5 weeks made me look at everything with Beginner’s Mind. Looking at this photo, even to myself I look alive, aware and curious to be in the moment in everything I did. I would constantly, breathlessly, aloud and astonished, “I am really here. This is happening right now!”
I felt this when I tiptoed out at 5.30 in the morning to visit the ‘long drop’ built specially for me. The family was already heating water for me on the fire. A little knock on the door and a whispered, “Water is ready” meant to go outside in the private washing place they fashioned for me under the stars. Again my mantra came to mind as I picked out the Southern Cross in the heavens. I had plenty of time to explore because the water was far too hot to touch.
I was not pushing away or clinging to these experiences, Even on my birthday I don’t think I look as alert and interested as my beaming face shows. Unfortunately for photographs Ugandans pull long faces and rarely smile for the camera even though they wanted a photo taken. My camera displays a thumbnail image. They were astonished to see themselves. I never saw a mirror in Kitwetwe, so unless they had a still pool somewhere, this really was the first time for them to see a distinct picture of themselves.
Riding to school was another first that I was uncomfortable doing to begin with.
To keep from falling off the bike I had to hold Johnson securely around his middle. I had only come that close to another man – my husband. But it was necessary. I was aware of sinews and no fat, wanting to draw closer for safety but feeling awkward. I never got used to riding like this, but he just pedalled onwards. Whole Ugandan families can fit on one bike omg. The schoolchildren ran behind us all the way to school.
Being curious and open made us very kind to one another. There was one afternoon I was sitting under a big tree when some girls came over. I don’t know how it got started, but we ended up very gently, very quietly stroking each others’ hair. I felt closer very suddenly as we all were in one another’s personal space. This was an especially close encounter because neither hug nor kiss. A handshake is the accepted greeting.
Peeking at me
Habits – Africa vs the West
In the West, we are used to hugging to show affection. I have read somewhere that we should hug someone every day.
7 Ways a Hug is good for you:
1 It makes us feel good
2 It lowers blood pressure
3 It may reduce our fears
4 It may strengthen our hearts
5 Adults can benefit even more from hugs
6 Hugs are a natural stress reducer
7 Adults who were well hugged as babies are less stressed as adults
When we embrace, we straightaway reduce the amount of the stress hormone cortisol produced in our bodies. Hugs also make our bodies release tension and send calming influences to the brain. Read the Huffington Post article and others about lowering blood pressure.
Go and give someone a hug right now!!
It might surprise them, but that’s only because you don’t do it enough. It great for both of you. You might get one back. That’s good for you, too.