Mindfulness for Transformation.

Join The Mud

This month’s SHIFT: “Join the Mud”

This blog is from the February, 2015 “One Moment Shifts” – a monthly email that I send with tips on shifts in perceptions for a happier, healthier, more at peace life.

I was recently asked by a friend to speak on how to handle it when others talk behind your back, throw you under the bus, think badly of you, and you feel like you’re being dragged through the mud. My guess is we’ve all been there in some capacity and can empathize with the pain of this experience. So, this month’s One Moment Shifts is dedicated to this topic.

Before I dive into this topic, I just want to throw out a reminder that Mindfulness doesn’t “fix” anything. Rather, Mindfulness is about being present with the unfolding of our experience, moment by moment. Mindfulness is not about changing others, controlling the world, or manipulating. This includes understanding that we have no control over the brains of others (how they think of us) or what they do or say.

However, when we are mindful of ourselves (thoughts, emotions, urges, actions) we can be more effective in all of our interactions.

In MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, a course in practicing mindfulness), John Kabat-Zinn discusses the practice of Aikido, a Japanese martial art, created by Morehei Ueshiba, to interact with others mindfully, assertively, and effectively.
This is from wikipedia: “Aikido is often translated as “the way of unifying (with) life energy” or as “the way of harmonious spirit.”Ueshiba’s goal was to create an art that practitioners could use to defend themselves while also protecting their attacker from injury. “
Also, “Aikido training is mental as well as physical, emphasizing the ability to relax the mind and body even under the stress of dangerous situations.”
In essence, we can 1. step out of the way of the attack (protect ourselves from physical, mental, emotional harm), 2. blend (with the attacking energy), and 3. redirect peacefully and return to balance.

Over the course of the next 3 months I will speak more on each of these 3 parts. (Also, we’ll be discussing them even more in the March course, Live In Love: A Course in Relationships!)

For now, a bit on step 2: Blending. This step can be confusing at first, so we’ll stick to some techniques you can take away right now.
1. Reflective Listening: Truly hear the other person (mindfully! do not think about what you will say next or your judgments about what they are saying), and reflect back to them the essence of what they said. Ask for clarification if needed. “What I heard you say is that it is inconvenient when I don’t get tasks done and you feel uncomfortable addressing this with me because I sometimes respond with irritation. Did I hear that correctly? Did I miss anything?”
2. Validate: Let them know they are understood. This does not have to mean agreeing or condoning. “I really get how important it is for this project to get done.” “I am understanding how uncomfortable it is to be in your position.”
These types of techniques can help blend with the “attacker.” This helps to reduce defensiveness and bring you and the other to a place where re-balancing and peace can be established.

You may have guessed by this point, that these particular techniques require interaction with the person who is saying/doing things that make you feel like you’re being dragged through the mud. Yep, I encourage you (if it’s safe) to actually ask to talk with the other person in efforts to find solutions and a better way to move forward.
I would encourage you to first be mindful of your self – for instance any sense of helplessness, anger, or defensiveness that will not be helpful in “blending.” Mindfulness can help us to embody empowerment, resilience, perseverance, and to get in touch with our true values that will guide us toward health, joy, and peace.

As a reminder, nobody (NOBODY!) determines your value. You are inherently valuable. What others say and do is a reflection of their own sense of worth (even when it seems to be about you). It isn’t what others do, it’s how you react, that is most important to YOUR path and your journey.
“The true mark of maturity is when someone hurts you and you try to understand their situation instead of trying to hurt them back.” – unknown
Side note but still related to “Join the Mud:” A currentAthena’s Circle participant reminded me of a Buddhist proverb, that the lotus flower blooms most beautifully from the deepest and thickest mud.
And I’ll leave you this month with a  quote by Thich Nhat Han; “If there is no mud, there will be no lotus flowers.”

Peaceful travels on your journey to your happiest self!

-Kathleen Sprole

One MomentCenter LLC
One Moment Center LLC embraces a mindfulness based approach to well being and self-discovery.
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