What is there is no need to change is one of my favorite poems of all time. I usually read it at the beginning and towards the end of a Mindfulness course. People starting out are often very self critical and harshly judgmental of themselves. Life has conditioned then to ask ‘why am I so infrequently the person I really want to be’ so it often hasn’t even occurred to them that maybe this is the wrong question! Instead they could ask ‘why do I so infrequently want to be the person I really am’.
Here is this beautiful poem:
What if there is no need to change? by Oriah Mountain Dreamer
What if there is no need to change?
No need to transform yourself
Into someone who is more compassionate, more present, more loving, or wise?
How would this affect all the places in your life where you are endlessly trying to be better, or different?
What if the task is simply to unfold
To become who you are already are in your essential nature –
Gentle, compassionate, and capable of living fully and passionately present?
What if the question is not,
Why am I so infrequently the person i really want to be?
But ‘why do i so infrequently want to be the person i really am?’
How would this change what you think you have to learn?
What if becoming who and what we truly are happens not through striving and trying
But by recognising and receiving the people and places and practices
That are for us the warmth of encouragement we need to unfold?
How would this shape the choices you make about how to spend today?
What if you know that the impulse to move in a way that creates beauty in the world
Will arise form deep within
And guide you every time you simply pay attention
How would this shape your stillness, your movement,
Your willingness to follow this impulse
To just let go
It’s wonderful to witness over the weeks of the course, how people’s attitudes towards themselves soften, how they become more self accepting, kinder, gentler and more compassionate. Our culture is so geared towards ‘pushing’ and ‘striving’, it’s easy to get caught up in the ‘not good enough’ myth.
Yet so many people are aching for rest, for the peace of not struggling and trying so hard so constantly. Practising Mindfulness encourages us to relax, let go, be with ourselves and life ‘just as it is’. When we do this, we develop inner peace and this wakes us up again to the simple pleasures of life and living.
People start to remember what they love, to pay attention to their children / grandchildren, the sea, spending time in nature, the sunlight reflecting on the water. They see again ‘the sublime in the ordinary everyday details’. It’s as if they remember to:
‘recognise and receive the people and places and practices
That are for them the warmth of encouragement they need to unfold?’
So, if the task is to unfold what we need to do is simply receive the light of encouragement and let that warmth let us unfold. Becoming present is a light of encouragement so Mindfulness facilitates this process. As Jon Kabat Zinn said, it is a ‘radical act of love’. We learn to cherish our wholeness, let go of the struggle for perfection, stop trying so hard, resisting so much and lighten up.
This blog was written by Joanne O’Malley, Mindfulness at Work.