Whatever comes up – that’s the curriculum.
During the summer I attended a day of “Mindfulness-Based Interventions from the Inside: Practise, Inquiry and Fine-Tuning” with Jon Kabat-Zinn. We spent some time discussing the nature of mindfulness based interventions, their purpose and the challenges and satisfactions of offering them in different contexts to different groups of people.
As Jon began to speak, he explained that he had no firm plan for the day and that “whatever comes up – that’s the curriculum”. It wasn’t lost on us that this too is the essence of mindfulness – whatever comes up, well, that’s the practise. In my role as a mindfulness teacher and therapist, I come across many individuals that struggle with uncertainty about “doing mindfulness right”. The most common questions centre around “what am I supposed to be thinking”, “should there be no thoughts at all”, questions and struggles that I myself experienced when I embarked on this practise. Through continued effort, I learned that our minds have become so used to being engaged that it goes against everything to allow the mind to just step back and watch what’s there rather than be in it. That mindfulness isn’t about striving for a thought-free or wholly positive mind, that mindfulness is about whatever comes up – that is indeed the practise.