The Ethical Dimension of Mindful Living
Relationships are the place where the skills and practices obtained in the individual domain and the structures and habits supported in the cultural domain come together and are actualized through inter- and intra- personal relationships. Relationships of all kinds are where “the rubber meets the road” and we have a chance to manifest mindful awareness.
“In a true you-and-I relationship, we are present mindfully, nonintrusively, the way we are present with things in nature. We do not tell a birch tree it should be more like an elm. We face it with no agenda, only an appreciation that becomes participation: ‘I love looking at this birch’ becomes ‘I am this birch’ and then ‘I and this birch are opening to a mystery that transcends and holds us both.” – David Richo
Relationships are fluid and improvisational. We can’t rehearse them and we can’t predict them. That is why we need to develop our capacity for mindful attention and care at the personal level while building systems and cultures that will encourage and support healthy relationships. We can use the lens of mindfulness to evaluate how our relationships are going; that can be done with our relationships with others as well as our relationship with our personal experiences.
Mindfulness of relationships is in the language of ethics. We can evaluate the generosity, patience, acceptance, gratitude and compassion of a given exchange. It is not so much what happens in day but how we are with what happens, the quality of our relationship to life as it is unfolding. The way we are in the present moment is what leads to the circumstances of the next moment.