Let’s get one thing clear. Mindfulness is manly. Men: read closely as I explain. Women: send this link to the men in your life. Everyone will benefit.
Mindfulness and meditation will make you happier, improve your relationships, and help you reach your success goals.
Mindfulness, as defined by Jon Kabat Zinn, is “paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment.” It is a type of awareness with qualities of acceptance, non-judgment, openness, and curiosity. Now, these may sound like sissy words, but believe me; they are not.
I have worked with many men as a counselor and coach. Time after time, men are caught in between competing roles and expectations. They need to be both strong, secure, and “the rock”, while also being sweet, compassionate, and a “good listener.” Admittedly us men often jump into “fix-it” mode, when all our spouse wants is to be “heard.” And other times we sit back and lounge, when really we need to be helping with the dishes. Time after time, men want a close relationship with their spouse or partner, yet arguments and mistrust get in the way.
The key to these quandaries lies within the wisdom of knowing when to apply what strategies.
Have you heard of wu-wei? It is a Taoist concept that implies an ability to respond perfectly to every situation with ease.
What’s more manly than being perfect? Answer: Nothing!
How can we develop wu-wei? Answer: Practice mindfulness!
How to be mindful and develop wu-wei:
1. Pay Attention.
You can pay attention to anything; in fact we do this all day, but often times we are distracted, doing one thing but thinking about something entirely different. Example: Thinking about your March Madness bracket while your wife tells you about her day. So, to really pay attention when it comes to interaction with another person, turn off the XBox, turn off the cell phone, and turn off the tv. Face the person squarely, look them in the face, and when the other person stops talking, simply repeat a summary of what they said or ask a question that elicits more detail. Try this out to practice really paying attention. Then, you can start introducing your own thoughts and responses, but notice how as you begin to formulate your own response, you may actually lose some of the attention that you had focused on the other person.
Of course, you can place your attention on anything; a song, your own thoughts or feelings, fixing your car. As you do these other tasks, try doing it with your full attention. When your mind wanders, and then you notice that your mind has wandered, guide it on back to the task at hand and notice as much detail as you can!
2. On purpose.
When you pay attention, do it because you decided to do it, and do it with intention. Try out saying to yourself (quietly in your mind, or out loud if you really want to) “I’m gonna pay attention now.” This kind of “self-talk” that we can do within ourselves may seem silly to some, but it is actually quite empowering. Self-talk is a skillful way to take a stance and gain control over what we want to do, think, and feel.
You can also use this purposeful self-talk to set your intention towards acting with acceptance, curiosity, and non-judgment. These qualities are the magic ingredients for successful romantic relationships. Frequent reminders and practice in doing this will cultivate these properties over time. The more you do it, the more benefit you will start to see in your life.
3. In the Present Moment.
In a sense, paying attention is always in the present moment, but it helps to clarify this point. In the present moment there is power, because you can do something. There is nothing you can do in the past or the future, it’s physically impossible.
What you can do is focus on thoughts about the past or future with mindfulness; and then you can act in the present in attempt to influence the future.
With your conscious attention placed in the present moment, you have more control and choice in what to do. You do it with a clear mind, precision, and unwavering resolve. These are manly words, right?
Instead of reacting out of anger, greed, and fear; you can respond with perfection. And thus, you have reached your wu-wei.
If you would like to dive in and explore mindfulness in your life, contact me here to learn more.