MOTHER NATURE WANTS TO BE PHOTOGRAPHED
Though mindfulness has been around for thousands of years, the poignant definitions provided by John Kabat-Zinn has served as a framework for many introductions to the topic. That is, Kabat-Zinn described mindfulness as “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experiences moment by moment” (Kabat-Zinn, 2003, p. 145).
Mindfulness has recently been considered as a tool for stress management, and in managing everyday emotions through observation. Perhaps managing is the wrong word, as managing implies that there is something to be done with these emotions, other than let them exist, which is contrary to mindfulness. (‘Managing’ emotions, and making choices about what our thoughts and feelings are telling us are perhaps a byproduct of mindfulness, though they are not mindfulness in itself. For example, we need to be aware of our internal dialogue before we decide what do with it, if anything).
Importantly, mindfulness has been considered as the counter to our hectic lives; the rat race, the autopiloted way we swan through our lives without actually taking in anything at all. When was the last time you engaged completely in a conversation without any distractions and really listened? When was the last time you ate and just concentrated on the food in your mouth? These are all aspects of mindful living; the same way that patience and mindfulness have the capacity to intersect.
It is a defining point of modern life that in the fortunate societies we live in, we have become somewhat reliant on instant gratification. We are instantly connected if we want to be, we are on the go, always busy, always reaching higher.
There are benefits to this of course, but what about when it detracts from our enjoyment of the life we are living right now? Our lives are simply made of constant little moments and constant nows. Nothing else actually exists. Have you ever existed at a time outside of a now? No, you have not; because now is all that is. Everything else if your construction of the past which is not current, or the hypothesis for the future. That is not to say that these aren’t relevant (learning from mistakes, using past positive memories to shape what you want, or setting future goals) but they aren’t your reality in this moment.
Your reality is always the moment you’re in.
So how does patience fit into present-moment living? Patience is defined in part, as the art of waiting for something – “be patient” – and can have an undertone of passivity. It can involve waiting or even working towards what you know you deserve, want, or feel you need. But in the time between where you are now and what may or may not arrive, you can exist anywhere on the spectrum between fully present and placing your existent contingent upon the next thing (that is, whatever you’ve been waiting for manifests). The trap is to keep doing this; promising ourselves to exist or live when we have done or achieved or received something.
Patience and being patient is just another opportunity for us to be present, and to practice the way in which we show up for ourselves in our lives. Sure, we’re waiting, and once we’ve said hello to the potential moments of frustration and angst at doing so, we can also realise that this is also a moment we’re living in, and not just a stepping-stone to what’s next.
In reality, what we’re waiting for may or may not come, but we can exist in what is. Showing up for ourselves and being present in every moment that we have the capacity to (which is a lot easier said than done), is how we own and live each of the ‘nows’ – the moments – that constitute our existence. The intersection of patience and mindfulness means that we’re showing up for ourselves in the moment, and in the now, irrespective of what we’re waiting for and whether or when it arrives.
“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”