In, Calming Your Anxious Mind, Jon Kabat-Zinn, wrote about living a mindful life. At one point Zinn relates a story by author Pema Chodron, from her book, The Places that Scare You. When Chodron was very young she had moments of feeling alone and unloved. Chodron recounts stomping down the street and kicking a can, or anything else in sight, as an expression of her fear and frustration. In recounting the moment, she wrote,
An old woman saw me and said, “Little girl, don’t you go letting life harden your heart.” Right there, I received this pith instruction: we can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder and more open to what scares us. We have this choice.
Life itself, with its many situations, circumstances and relationships, is the incubator of mindfulness because it creates the possibility of awareness, courage, hope and meaningful action by occasionally putting us in environments that are the opposite of those very virtues. Perhaps part of living a mindful life, and leading from a mindful inner space, is recognizing that when things are “hard” we have the opportunity to infuse in that situation with that which would make the moment better and more meaningful.
Mindfulness is then the ability to see the possibility in the “hard” or in the “good” and harness and direct my energy toward that better. This transforms the world, or at least the little corner of it we find ourselves standing on.