The Basics of Mindfulness

The 3 Pillars of Mindfulness

Mindfulness practice asks us to shift our attitude from our usual judging or evaluating mindset to one of curiosity and kindness. This shift in attitude takes constant practice and the benefits are worth it! 

Mindfulness practice is a whole person experience where we are awakening the connection between the mind, body and heart. I use the word awakening because much of what we experience is below the line of consciousness or awareness. As we spend time meditating (formally and informally), bringing a kind and curious attitude to our experience, we expand our field of awareness. This awareness grows our trust in ourselves and our capacity to be with whatever arises, even when it is unpleasant, uncomfortable or undesirable. This is when we can begin to heal, to grow, to experience more joy, gratitude, love, happiness, agency, resiliency, connection and peace. 

Compassion - Heart Opening Practice

In order to do anything about the suffering of the world, we must have the strength to face it without turning away.

Sharon Salzberg

Compassion arises from our natural inclination to care for and connect with others, including ourselves. It is the act of recognizing suffering, the willingness to turn toward it and the motivation to relieve it. It is the general wish for someone, including ourselves, to be relieved of emotional or physical burden. As we begin to access the sensation or feeling of compassion in the body, we may notice a tugging at the heart, a motivation to respond with care.

Compassion is innate to us. It accesses our care response and it is a psychological resource that can be strengthened. It can be viewed as another muscle to be exercised. We can deepen our capacity to be compassionate. 

Two Wings of Practice

Colette Millar, Global Angel Wings Project

Mindfulness plays an important role in cultivating compassion. It supports our ability to come face to face with suffering. Therefore, mindfulness gives rise to compassion through the attitude of kindness and non-judgement. Compassion relies on mindfulness to help sustain us when in the face of suffering. Together, we gain the courage to turn towards suffering with strength, resilience and stability.

Like two wings of a bird, mindfulness and compassion cultivate inner strength and resources, even an inner refuge, so that we can respond from a place that not only reflects what we care about, how we want to live and show up in the world, but as Jack Kornfield, a renowned meditation teacher, says, “to connect with something greater and deeper than the storms that are swirling around” us. 

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