If you only got into Mindfulness because you had tried everything else and were desperate to find relief from your mental suffering, to escape some neurosis, or you simply wanted to quieten your mind so that you could get the edge in a competitive world, then you need to understand one thing now. Before you go further and can’t go back, I have something very important to tell you.
Take three mindful breaths and give your full attention as you read this now.
If you practice mindfulness you are in great peril, because without you knowing something is starting to happen to you. You are become mindful of your emotions and when this happens there really is no going back.
Your mindfulness training allows you to be okay with your emotions and you learn how to sit with your suffering. Mindfulness teaches you how to embrace your emotions, how to accept them with out judgement and free yourself by allowing them to be part of you again. You become a whole human being, capable of clear rational thought but also connected to your inner knowing and the full spectrum of your emotional experience. You might start to experience a deep sense of peace, joy, even profound states of bliss for absolutely no reason at all.
Wonderful you say, but there’s a drawback.
When you learn to be mindful of emotions and you and learn how to really feel, you’ll start to feel the suffering of others. You feel so mindfully and so acutely that you realise that the suffering of other affects how you feel. If someone is angry you sense your own emotional response you feel your own anger rising in yourself. If you can be mindful when this happens and take responsibility for your emotions and not blame the other for them, then you’ll see. You’ll see that you are feeling anger because that is what is present in your emotional field. Their anger is triggering a response in you, it’s like a reflection. You wont need to attack them and make the reflection still more painful, you may seek a peaceful resolution.
If you are in the presence of someone who is suffering bereavement, you may feel their hurt, you may feel it as deep pain within yourself even though you never met the deceased. You feel it in your body as part if you. Their suffering is your suffering. If they suffer in your presence, then you suffer too. You’ll want to show kindness and offer comfort, if only to ease your own pain.
How can you hurt someone if you feel their suffering? Their suffering is your suffering. Their happiness is your happiness, and once you realise this, you change. You try to not hurt people, you become “mindful of the stones you throw” and you chose to act with tolerance with kindness, with love and generousness of spirit. You’ll have cultivated compassion and that changes everything.
So much of what we are told to do in our work and in our lives in general, hurts others and offends our compassion. I’ve known many people change their careers when they cultivate compassion, because they realised that their jobs required them do harm, to be dishonest or to exploit or disadvantage others. Even though the work might make them rich it offended their compassion and impoverished them within. They realised that no amount of gold will satisfy their soul and true wealth is compassion.
Compassion can get you in a lot of trouble, it can destroy your career and in the cruel unconscious system we live under, compassion is a crime, and can even get you sent to prison or even killed. Ask Snowden, Manning or any brave whistle-blower about the perils of compassion.
Pure cold calculated reason is one thing, the ego can use it to justify any abomination, and when you live in that deception it’s okay, you believe what you are told, you never question the false reality that has been crafted to detach you from yourself and you follow the programme with blind obedience. But when you have compassion everything changes. If you are mindful of your thoughts and emotions and your unconscious behaviour then you will see your programming, your indoctrination will come undone and you’ll see things as they really are. You have cultivated compassion and will be not deceived by spin and propaganda into offending it. Your eyes are open and that is the end of blind obedience.
You might find yourself withdrawing consent from a government that perpetuates wars, and supports despotic regimes, you might refuse to fight corporate wars, or to pay taxes to fund ethnic cleansing or may refuse to co-operate with a government that enriches a small inner circle whilst impoverishing the people. You might find yourself disobeying laws that are unjust, you might find yourself challenging corruption and state sanctioned cruelty, you might disobey orders and question authority.
In an unconscious world compassion is the ultimate act of rebellion. In an unconscious world compassion and disobedience go together.