Hey there friends! I share this topic with you this month as it has been a focus in my mindfulness practice as of late, and it’s been an absolute game (life) changer for me. The practice of cultivating a non-contentious heart has lifted me out of some pretty darn entrenched thought patterns and behaviors that have been getting in my way for years.
What do I mean by “non-contentious heart?” A non-contentious heart is non-argumentative. From the teachings of the Buddha, “There is gain and loss, slander and honor, praise and blame, pleasure and pain; the awakened ones are not controlled by these external things; they will cease as quickly as they arise. If others speak against you, do not be angry, for that will prevent your own inner freedom. Learn to bear their harsh words patiently until they cease.” (from https://jackkornfield.com/hone
I’ve spent many years running into metaphorical walls because I’ve really wanted people to think certain things about me, see me in a certain light…and if I thought someone didn’t think of me the way I wanted them to (or how I wanted myself to see me!) it would drive me bonkers. Even if nobody was actually saying harsh things about me or to me, I couldn’t let it go and it felt like being in my own mental prison.
(Side note: A non-contentious heart is not saying stay in situations that are harmful. This is not about being passive. Absolutely advocate for yourself, your wellbeing, your safety.)
My mindfulness practice has led me to learning more about and then cultivating this new (to me) attitude. A heart that has no need to argue. A heart that has no need to change anybody else’s mind. It isn’t always perfect and I still catch myself wanting to be right, argue, and manipulate how folks think about me. Even then, I am more able to be a witness to this pattern and lovingly guide myself back to the path of liberation.
I found myself willing to put down some of my methods of “getting through” like being controlling (i.e., wanting someone to think of me a certain way), or being manipulative (i.e., pushing for an outcome that would be best for me). I have been less desperate to make things work on according to my terms (which they aren’t and can’t be…not mine to control).
I think part of what has been helpful about this attitude is that (when I’m in it) I’m not trying to fix or force anything. I’m more able to approach situations with “beginner’s mind,” with a fresh view and not having already determined what’s going to happen. (I could give 100 examples of how this mindset has led me to some not so great self-fulfilling prophecies.)
Instead of showing up to conversations with a mind that is already made up, self-righteousness, or ready to battle out that I’m right, focusing on a non-contentious heart allows a sense of open, fresh space. Now there is room to listen, to learn, to understand the other person, and to even understand more about myself. There is no need to argue or show up like a bull ready to plow through the difficulty.
I have the freedom to choose to just be. YOU have the freedom to choose. How liberating!
Peace and love on your self-discover journey!
The time has come to be your happiest self!