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  • Writer's pictureCornelia Baumann

'What if there is no need to change?'

This time of year usually comes with a lot of pressure to change and improve. Lose weight, work out (more), become organised, stop bad habits.... The message is basically that how we are is not good enough. After quite a tough year behind us and more difficult times ahead we might not feel inclined to put this message on top of it.

What about learning to practice mindfulness meditation? One might say that starting to meditate or practice mindfulness is another new year resolution that will ultimately just make us feel bad if we don't stick to it. However the difference is that one of the fundamental principles of mindfulness is the assumption that at the deepest level who and how and what we are is ok. It starts with acceptance. A turning towards what is and letting that sink in and be. Without trying to fix and change.

This is very counter-intuitive. We are more used to seeing a problem and finding a solution. So it can be confusing to practice acceptance. It immediately brings up fear of failure and scepticism: Why shouldn't we change something that is bad for us or others? Isn't that the same as becoming passive, indifferent, complacent? While on the surface this may seem to be the case, this principle of acceptance does not mean that we should never change or work on ourselves. The idea is that 'acceptance precedes change'. Only when we truly see what is going on and allow that to sink in and be, can our mind settle and see things clearly. And from that clarity, calmness and acceptance we can then choose what the best thing to do is. And moreover, this attitude of acceptance can also bring peace to things that we are just not able to change....such as a global pandemic, getting older, things that lie in the past.

That is why practicing mindfulness is not self-improvement but self-exploration and acceptance.

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