Frye July 22, 2015 The Importance of Attitude
Two weeks ago I spoke a bit about three key aspects of mindfulness – intention, attention, and attitude.
I want to focus today’s session on the importance of setting a kind and friendly attitude. (Attitude: view, viewpoint, outlook, perspective, stance, position, inclination, temper, orientation, approach, reaction)
I wanted to especially thank Teresa for so tenderly leading us in last week’s meditation while Carolyn was off on vacation. The attitude she offered us was that of openness, inclusion, welcoming, kindness, curiosity, acceptance, love. These are exactly the qualities of attitude we want to bring to our practice.
When we don’t make the effort of attending to our experience with these open warm hearted qualities or attitudes, we often slip into self-judgment, condemning or shaming of our experience. Have you ever found yourself, while meditating, thinking: ‘oh, my mind is too busy!’ Or ‘what’s wrong with me? Why can’t I meditate?” Often these thoughts are not said in a very friendly or compassionate tone of voice. We can actually end up cultivating patterns of criticism and striving, instead of equanimity and acceptance.
With intentional training, one becomes increasingly able to take interest in each experience as it arises and also allow what is being experienced to pass away. Through intentionally bringing the attitudes of patience, compassion and non-striving to the attentional practice, one develops the capacity to not continually strive for pleasant experiences, or to push aversive experiences away.
We can greet whatever arises, even when what is occurring in the field of experience is contrary to deeply held wishes or expectations. However, it is essential to make the attitudinal quality of attention explicit. It is important for the practitioner to consciously commit, e.g. “may I bring kindness, curiosity, and openness to my awareness, may I infuse my awareness with a generosity of spirit”
So we will work with some of these attitudes, and cultivation phrases during today’s meditation.
Excerpt from An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, by Chris Hadfield:
In space flight, “attitude” refers to orientation: which direction your vehicle is pointing relative to the Sun, Earth and other spacecraft. If you lose control of your attitude, two things happen: the vehicle starts to tumble and spin, disorienting everyone on board, and it also strays from its course, which, if you’re short on time or fuel, could mean the difference between life and death. In the Soyuz, for example, we use every cue from every available source – periscope, multiple sensors, the horizon – to monitor our attitude constantly and adjust if necessary. We never want to lose attitude, since maintaining attitude is fundamental to success.
In my experience, something similar is true on Earth. Ultimately, I don’t determine whether I arrive at the desired professional destination. Too many variables are out of my control. There’s really just one thing I can control: my attitude towards the journey, which is what keeps me feeling steady and stable, and what keeps me headed in the right direction. So I consciously monitor and correct, if necessary, because losing attitude would be far worse than not achieving my goal.