I've started re-reading "Full Catastrophe Living" by Jon Kabat-Zinn. It's a great primer for mindfulness training. This book is a perfect companion to the course, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, which was created by Kabat-Zinn and is now taught all offer the United States. I happen to be a Qualified Teacher of this lovely curriculum, and I teach it at our community hospital in Monterey, but the book is also a great resource for those who may not be able to find/afford such a course.
One of the first few chapters concentrates on the qualities or states that are beneficial for mindfulness training, and the one that struck a chord in me was trust:
"Developing a sense of trust in yourself and your feelings is an integral part of meditation training...if at any time something doesn't feel right to you, why not honor your feelings? Why should you discount them or write them off as invalid because some authority or some group of people think or say differently? The attitude of trusting yourself and your own basic wisdom and goodness is very important in all aspects of the meditation practice."
"It is impossible to become like someone else. Your only hope is to become more fully yourself."
"In practicing mindfulness, you are taking responsibility for being yourself and learning to listen to and trust your own being. The more you cultivate this trust in your own being, the easier you will find it will be to trust other people more and to see their basic goodness as well."
(All quotes are from Chapter 2.)
Indeed, why not honor our own feelings? Why does it ever occur to us to doubt ourselves and question ourselves as much as we do?
I love and need this idea that it is our responsibility to be ourselves, listen to ourselves, and trust ourselves. No one will do this for us, yet sometimes it feels like it should be someone else's job. Sometimes we want to entrust the care of ourselves to our friends, our family, our spouse-- surely they love us enough to anticipate our needs, consider our unspoken needs before their own, right? If this thought process sounds very familiar, then disappointment might feel familiar as well. No matter how caring our loved ones might be, it is our responsibility to believe in ourselves, to speak for ourselves, to advocate for ourselves, and to identify and implement all that we need in order to be comfortable and happy in our world.
Thomas Merton gave us this remarkable brain bender which ends up making a whole lot of sense. "Finally I am coming to the conclusion that my highest ambition is to be what I already am. That I will never fulfill my obligation to surpass myself unless I first accept myself, and if I accept myself fully in the right way, I will already have surpassed myself."
May we accept and trust ourselves fully today.