The Seven Foundations of Mindfulness

Mindfulness has seven foundations of attitude. Each of these foundations are skills that need to be practiced regularly. Some people set aside a specific time of the day to be mindful, others practice throughout the day using it for those activities we do without thinking: driving, washing dishes, eating, walking, listening to music. There are many opportunities to practice these mindfulness foundation skills while living in the moment.

1. Non-judging

We become aware of our judgement streams and step back from it. Notice how often you judge everything. What feelings does judging bring up in us? How often do you judge yourself? Judging traps us in behaviors that lead to unhappiness and suffering as we want things to be a certain way. Step back from judgement and just simply observe and witness the experience without clinging to it, or pushing it away. Try this: For 10 minutes notice how much you are preoccupied with judging, liking and disliking things. You’ll be surprised at how much you do it.

2. Patience

Patience is the wisdom of knowing we are on the right path. It’s understanding that life will unfold the way it was meant to. We can’t always control or will things to happen. Patience is accepting this is way things were meant to be and life will take us in the direction we were meant to go.

3. A beginners mind

Sometimes our past assumptions can prevent us from experiencing the richness of life. We think we can predict what will happen so we don’t open our minds to any new possibilities. Think of experiencing life through the eyes of a baby. When you adopt a beginners mind, every event in life becomes a source of wonder and amazement. Through a beginner’s mind you can become open to new possibilities.

4. Trust

When we can access our own wisdom we learn to trust ourselves. Listen to those self-doubting thoughts and look into where they are coming from, instead of just believing them. When we do this we give ourselves the gift of trusting our intuition and feelings that guide us in our decision making. We come to believe in ourselves and find our authentic selves.

5. Non-striving

When we are goal driven there is a price we pay for it. Usually the more we try to accomplish, the more stressed we feel. Striving to reach our goals focuses us on being future-oriented and trying to “get somewhere” instead of accepting what is going on in the here and now. Spend a day paying attention to the desire in you to get somewhere and see how it makes you feel. Then practice having no specific goal and see how much less pressure you feel.

6. Acceptance

Acceptance means that you accept things as they are in this moment, regardless of what is going on in your life. Think about this – is there something going on in your life right now that you are having trouble accepting? Does this resistance help? Do you feel stuck and hopeless? The attitude of acceptance allows us freedom from judgement and envelops us with compassion for ourselves. It doesn’t mean that we have to approve and resign ourselves to it. It means we are simply allowing ourselves to accept what is happening to us, rather than fighting with it.

7. Letting Go

When we realize our thoughts, and feelings come and go, time and time again, we can become better at intentionally letting them go – both the good and the bad. It can be liberating to free ourselves from our own suffering and move into the beauty and peacefulness of the world.

Try this for one week: Pick one foundation each day and concentrate only on that one. See what happens when you consciously start thinking about it. You’ll be surprised at what a difference it makes when we are aware of them.

Reflecting on each of these foundations of attitude guides us to see how they interact with each other. Allowing them to guide you forward to make each moment in your life count. It’s training and nourishing our brains with new energy for healing and growth.