I don’t like making mistakes. But who does? I know that mistakes are important for me learning, developing and growing. I know that I can’t avoid them. They belong to life. I try to pacify them, using affirmations and wise sentences like: “The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything” (by Edward John Phelps). Does it help?-partially only.

Mistake is an outcome of a decision that does not fulfil my expectations and is not in an agreement with what I wanted and planned. It can be a small, unimportant blunder or a big disaster. As a result of it I can be embarrassed, ridiculed, abandoned or even punished; none of which is pleasant. And I will feel it in my body as discomfort, nervousness, anxiety or even pain. No wonder that I dislike it. No wonder that I want to avoid mistakes and minimize their number. And I do it by thinking; I create elaborated plans and stories: I analyze mentally a mistake from all possible angles, before it occurs and after it has happened. I find guilt in people and circumstances. I believe that I can remove discomfort in the body by using my intelligence. It doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes I can’t stop the diligent mind from overheating in search of explanation and solution. But I should remember that the mind may not have an answer or a solution. So where to find it? How to cope with the discomfort made by mistakes?

The answer is: in the present, where all the turmoil appears, in the body that feels.

So I turn away from thoughts towards the state of my body. I concentrate on breathing; I feel the headache or whatever ache I experience here and now, I am present with the heaviness on my chest without judging or explaining anything. I am mindful of the energy moving in my body. And the notion of mistake disappears. There is no mistake any longer. There is only experience that my body has in the moment. It knows what to do with it and I trust it.

I know that this action of redirecting attention is a very difficult thing to do, because we are so trained in trusting the mind and distrusting the body. But you will never know until you actually do it and experience it for yourself. And it doesn’t cost anything just a bit of courage. How big mistake can it be?

I can sing to myself “Don’t worry, be happy”. In spite of this wise message I do worry. And the world, media and society supply me with reasons to worry. So I worry about wars and terrorist’s attacks; about losing life, losing family, losing home and losing health. I am informed diligently about all the possible ways I can get sick, be destroyed and punished. I am being threatened by poverty and lack of work and money in sneaking economic crises. Even going to shop for grocery can be challenging. All the things I have to consider purchasing my breakfast: is the food I choose correct or maybe it is full of poison put there by greedy and vicious producers. I should be on guard there too. Not mentioning my moral obligation to be a good person. Am I a good person? Does eating meat, driving car or buying a t-shirt make me a bad person? So I worry there too.

Experts, politicians, scientist and my family work so hard to make my life safer, better, healthier and they constantly worry on my behalf, they have to protect me from myself.

In this race for safety I lose myself, I lose joy and happiness of life, I lose space to move and explore. Do I really need all this control, protection and supervising?

Of course I want to be safe, but I also want to enjoy life, to be creative and happy. I want to have the right dynamic in my life, be aware of what is really happening in the here and now without always foreseeing the worst scenario for the future. I don’t want to be a victim of constant worries.

So I take a break from the elaborated stories of possible disasters and threats, I say “Thank you” to the worrisome mind and I seat myself to meditate. I concentrate on the sensations and feelings in my body. I allow it to be scared, because that’s what it feels; the tightness in the body, the shallow breath, the closed chest. I don’t change anything I am with my scared body, I listen to it. I allow this imprisoned energy in me to move. I trust its wisdom and I hope that it can trust me. In this mutual acceptance and awareness we both relax, open and calm down. I am no longer scarred. There is nothing to worry about.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that “negative” feelings are not welcome in our lives. We would actually do anything to get rid of them and live happily without them. Unfortunately the buggers won’t listen to us and constantly come back. We fight and resist them, we pretend they are not there, and we wrap them in entertaining stories. All these efforts don’t help a bit; they always reappear causing an unwanted behaviour in us. We use so much energy to hide them or to act on them. We are so convinced about their bad intentions that we won’t even look at them.

It actually takes both courage and curiosity to heed negative feelings. And it is also worth to do it, because their function is to give us some precious and important information and not to torture us. So instead of pushing them away, we should invite them to take a floor. We can do it in a safe and quiet space of meditation. We can be mindful of them.

Invite the “negative” feelings into your awareness, without calling them names and judging, listen and inquire with open heart and open mind. That’s the way of understanding and integrating them into your life. You can’t defeat them or get rid of them, because they are an integral part of you. You can only use their wisdom to improve and enrich your life, and become happier.

I had planned a short, one day trip. I was looking forward to a new place, eating out, sleeping in a hotel and lounging around. A chain of circumstances deprived me of that day off. It came to nothing. There was not a big disaster or a drama, nevertheless I felt very disappointed, even angry and irritated because of it. My diligent mind came immediately with some help to pacify these feelings; it elaborated some explanations and accusations. That’s how the mind works; it tells stories, stories about faults and merits, about the guilty and the innocent. So it blamed some people and circumstances and it told me to count my blessings and not ponder over a trivial pleasure that I lost. It turned the event and my experience into a story taking me on a trip far from the here and now. And this trip can last days. A banal, little disappointment can cause a weeks-long trial.

But if I turn away from the protective thoughts and I shake off the story I simply sense a discomfort in my body. I feel a clog in my chest and energy draining away. And I don’t need to justify or diminish it. It is enough to be honest about it. It is enough to feel it, to pay attention to it and be mindful of it. My body knows how to accommodate and reconcile these emotions if only I don’t suppress them with the story. It will help me to respond to the event adequately and consciously at the moment. This is the beauty of mindfulness.

It has been a beautiful summer in Norway. The nature is rich and exuberant here. The intensity and variety of green colors is breath taking. And the weather is very changeable. There are no two days similar; it may rain and blow one day and be sunny and warm the following one. The season is so pleasant, rich and fascinating. There is luxury in it.

So, when I can, I take a sensual approach to it; I can walk through a buzzing city or a wild forest and just pay attention to my experience of walking and I don’t comment on it at all. I only see; I only feel, hear and smell what is here and now. I see the landscape coming towards me; I feel the air on my cheeks and hands and my feet touching the ground; I hear the sounds without describing them, without giving them any names. My body knows how to walk; my body knows how to breathe, so I usually don’t pay any attention to it, but now. Now I observe it walking, breathing, sensing. I am in motion and fully present in it. It is the very experience of life unfolding to me. And it is also called walking meditation; highly recommended.

Mindfulness meditation is not a religion or a religious attribute. Practicing mindfulness meditation will not make of you a slave to a sect or destroy your life. Yes, meditation is used and talked of in many religions, but reading and writing, singing or playing an instrument is used as well. There are people who distrust meditation as centuries ago there were people who distrusted books and the skill of understanding them. Books were mystical and very suspicious. And now nobody would treat a skill of reading and writing as something suspicious or dangerous, because it is simply a skill, a skill that is used by everybody in spite of their religious, political or cultural background. I can say the same about mindfulness meditation. It is simply a skill- a tool that helps to broaden perspective on life and open our awareness; it gives inner calm, better concentration and reduces stress. And like writing and reading it needs to be learned and practiced. It is an activity that needs training. It needs to be done regularly. Understanding it is in doing it. You need to experience it with you own body and mind to conceive the meaning of it. Yes, it can be used by religious people as well as atheists to simply help them grow, develop and be happier.

There are days without excitement-the ordinary days; no inspiration, no particular meetings, no prospect of fun. The everyday routine at work and at home; the tiding up, the food making, bit of reading and telly watching-the everyday activities, the same people, the same tasks. Nothing happens; another normal and uninteresting day.

When I take a closer look at such days I can see a great value in them.

When I take a closer look at such days I discover situations and happenings that proved to be very important and significant for my happiness. And sometimes I reproach myself for not noticing them, for ignoring and overlooking them completely at that time. I regret not being fully present then and there.

I don’t want to make this mistake anymore. I want to be present and conscious of my own life at every moment in spite of the judgement I put on it. I want to taste my days, I want to feel them. I want to be mindful. It is my life and every second of it is precious to me.

I have heard a beautiful Spanish song -”Gracias a la Vida”. The melody and the lyrics stay with me all the time now. “Thank you”-I should say it to the life more often. Instead I ignore the richness and beauty of the life and get disappointed or dissatisfied, because the life doesn’t bring to me what I expect it to bring. I want sunshine when it’s raining and I may want rain when it’s hot. I want to be alone when I am with people, or I crave for a company when alone. I am looking always for something that is not here and ignore and overlook everything that is. I am concentrated on my expectations or worries and miss the present moment.

“La Vida”-the life is happening nowhere else but here, so it is time to start paying attention to it. Summer is perfect for practicing this attitude of gratefulness: noticing what’s here and seeing value in it. The presence is abundance; enjoy it, appreciate it and be mindful of it.

We women need to be strong and brave. We have to be strong for our children, families and employers. We need to be strong to prove that we are not weak and uninteresting females, because a woman from the very definition is somebody who is weak, sentimental and a burden to the world. So we do anything to prove contrary.

I know many women who repeat to themselves: “I have to be strong, patient, kind and understanding. I am a brave girl and I will persevere”. And they do. They are afraid to give up in front of a mountain of tasks, keeping their moody children, demanding bosses, expectant parents or detached partners satisfied. And they have their own mantra: I will manage; I will show “them” that I can, that I am a good, worthy and valuable person.

I wonder what a brave and strong woman does really feel inside. When she tells herself to be strong, does she really feel weak, exhausted and fed up? When she has to be brave is she scared of a situation and people around her? What does she really feel when confronted with a naughty child, rude colleagues, expectant parents and a bossy boss? What is it she would really want to tell from the very depth of her guts? What kind of emotions are there?

It is wise to be protective of our feelings; we don’t need to act on them or advertise them and neither suppress them. But nobody teaches us how to take care of this inner world full of changes, intensity, pressure and constant motion. Feelings expressed are judged, feelings suppressed become a problem. So how to approach them?

You know my recommendation: meditation. In meditation you can rest and allow for all feelings; meditation gives you a safe space to feel what you feel without censure. It will show you your true value and make you truly strong.

People come to my meditation classes with an expectation of approaching some kind of mystical space, far away from their complicated and dissatisfying lives. And I sense disappointment when I start a class with a simple body awareness exercise. We don’t go anywhere, we don’t leave the body, contrary, we get closer to it; we are being interested only in the feelings and sensations in the body, going from one part to another, scanning it attentively and patiently, listening to what is going on there and not paying any attention to a story that the mind is trying to tell about it.

The thinking, intelligent mind has already an idea about meditation, that it will bring nirvana, enlightenment and liberation from sufferings and sorrows by some magical act of separation from the body and perfect sublimation of the very mind. When the mind realizes that meditation does not include thinking, that it is not interested in the accumulated knowledge it rebels. It will not allow for taking your attention away from thinking and science, particularly to something as primitive and boring as the body!

Shifting attention from thinking to just sensing can be a struggle and it takes an effort simply because we have been trained not to trust our feelings, but trust our intelligence. In meditation I ask you to take authority away from your critical mind and handle it to you somatic mind-the feeling one. I ask you to drop a search for objective truth and start trusting your subjective experience.

I realize that the thinking prevails and that it is not easy to change the habit of relying on it.

Nevertheless I hope for showing you a different way of approaching the mystery of life. Meditation gives you a different point of view and a broader perspective, where you learn to trust yourself.

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