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Being With Working With, Mindfulness Series

Being With Working With


In teaching mindfulness with our Summa Health employees, we start our departmental sessions practicing being with. Sometimes mindfulness is just being with, a thing. And then other times, it's working with a thing. Either way, or both ways together, the purpose of being with, or working with in our practice, is to do so on purpose, in the moment, non-judgmentally.

What's important about this comes from the awareness that arises when we can just be with something. Should you decide you want to take steps to work with something, you can do it from a place of being. The benefit of being with, can often result in decreasing one's suffering. Have you ever been in the middle of a challenging experience and a dear friend chooses to simply be with you? No advice. No direction. No shifting focus to them. Just being with you. It can change the level of felt suffering and should you decide to work with something, the effort comes from that inner wisdom of being with, first. That can certainly change the outcome.

So imagine a little more time as a human being, instead of a human doing. For this practice, you're invited to find your way back to that dignified place of both comfort and alertness. Maybe you find your way a little bit faster this time because you're more practiced bringing a gentle awareness to the breath and noticing again, the way the body expands as you breathe in and contracts as you breathe out.

And next, I invite you to call to mind a circumstance in your life right now, that poses a challenge, challenging feelings or emotions. You don't have to go deep here, just keep it at a manageable level. And we're borrowing this practice from Dr. David Treleavin, who studies and teaches trauma sensitive mindfulness.

So as you have this thought in your mind about something challenging, I'd like you to take one of your hands, if that's available to you, and let this hand represent the circumstance of challenge. And go ahead and make a fist and you can go ahead and let the tightness of the fist actually represent the level of challenge that you're experiencing.

And really, we're just practicing being with this circumstance right now. Nothing to change. Nothing to do. Just being with. This is what's happening. This is the experience. And if we decide we want to work with this from a place of being, the next invitation, if you have another hand, is to take your other hand and simply slide it underneath this fist that represents your circumstance, and let the other hand represent kindness and compassion and see what happens to the hand holding all the frustration when it's held in this space of kindness and compassion.

Just note any changes that happen to the intensity of this other fist. Just bringing awareness to what is. And if it feels comfortable, you can go ahead and release both the hands. Go ahead and lay your hands on your lap and see what has come, what awareness has arised from being with, and little bit of working with too.

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